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Where's The Churn Rate In Podcasting?
Episode 10015th March 2022 • Podcast Pontifications • Evo Terra
00:00:00 00:09:27

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Evo Terra:

Podcasters love regular listeners.

Evo Terra:

And regular listeners love their podcasts.

Evo Terra:

Dependability on both sides has been a driving and differentiating

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factor for podcasting.

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But is that still a good thing?

Evo Terra:

Hello, and welcome to another Podcast Pontifications with me, Evo Terra.

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Okay, I promise this is about podcasting, but first I've got to talk about books

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and television series and movies.

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And then I'm going to talk about podcasting, I promise.

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See, in the last fifteen months, I've read thirteen different books.

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I read a lot of books.

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I mean, almost every night I read for thirty minutes to an hour.

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And when one book ends, I go get another book.

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You know, with millions of choices to read there's never a time when

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I can't find anything to read.

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I also watch a lot of television shows.

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I mean, since I work from home, I tend to watch an episode of something

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when I'm on break for lunch.

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And when a series that I'm watching ends, I go get another TV series.

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Hundreds, or maybe even thousands of shows to watch, there's never a time when

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I can't find anything I want to watch.

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I also watch a lot of movies.

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Evenings, the weekends, and also between what I have on the numerous

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services that I subscribe to, and also, finally, now movie theaters, I

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have enough choices so that when I'm in the mood for the next movie I want

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to watch, there's never a time when I can't find another movie to watch.

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And this isn't an uncommon experience.

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At least not for those of us that live in developed nations.

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There's a lot of content, more content than any one person can

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hope to consume on their own.

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And yes, access can be, and is, an issue.

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A particular title that you might want to consume may not be in the

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libraries which you have access to.

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And yeah, search and discovery within those growing libraries of

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content is oftentimes a big mess.

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But still, we keep returning to those wells, actual libraries,

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marketplaces, streaming services, forty-screen cinema down the street.

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We lap up the content, all those different titles, all the time.

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I read fifteen different books in the last fifteen months.

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Netflix says I watched twenty-two different series and sixteen different

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movies, and Netflix is just one of the services I've subscribed to.

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And if that sounds like a lot to you, it's really not all that different from the

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average, but it's a lot more consuming of titles than we see in podcasting.

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Why is that?

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I have a hypothesis.

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Every year, Edison Research puts out their Infinite Dial report.

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One of the data points presented in that report is the number of podcasts listened

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to by the people in the last week.

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Now, that number is right around eight or five, depending on how you want to count.

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And how you count's not important to this particular thing I'm trying to get

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to, so I'm just going to skip past it and not make you do any of the math.

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Actually, I will make you do some math.

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Because if we take that five or that eight, and we extrapolate that weekly

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listening for the entire year, we get 260 or 416, and those are much bigger numbers

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than I just talked about for the books, television shows, and movies that I watch.

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But actually, it's not.

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Those big numbers are podcast episodes consumed, not specific podcast titles.

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And while serialized, self-contained podcasts are growing in popularity,

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there's no doubt that the episodic, ongoing podcast, that is the same

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episodes or actually different episodes, but the same type of content

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week after week, that's the norm.

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Or more frequently than that.

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I mean, look no further than this show with nearly 600 episodes I put out

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over the last 4.5 years, as an example.

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There's no break.

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It's generally accepted that you can count the number of podcasts the average person

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is actively listening to on one hand.

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And if most of those podcasts are episodic and ongoing, then there isn't really much

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room for them to listen to anything else.

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Episodic podcasts don't have the terminal nature of books,

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television series, or movies.

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They don't have a finite end point at which the listeners now have reached the

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conclusion and are then forced to hunt for something else to fill their time.

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No, not in podcasting.

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In podcasting, they just keep going.

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The shows just keep going.

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For months on end or years on end.

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And yeah, sure, many listeners are going to grow bored and drop out.

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Some are just going to dip in and out when they get what they need and then move on.

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But a lot won't.

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A lot will hang out and keep consuming that content, inhibiting their

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ability to find and discover new content because they don't really

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have the room for the new content.

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The churn rate is something businesses try to keep low.

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Podcasters, too, for obvious reasons.

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I mean, we want to keep our listeners.

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We want to grow our listener base.

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If we can give our people what they need with our show and then keep giving

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them that content so that they never have to leave us and go find something

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else, why not lock them in place?

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Now, if there's a point to this notion, this notion that would not leave my

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brain last night so you get to deal with it today, sorry about that, it's

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this, podcasting is different from the other sorts of media we humans consume.

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The other forms, they've all adapted to provide their consumers

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a "get this and then get this when you're done" content fountain.

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Podcasting hasn't.

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Podcasting, at least for a very large segment of the podcast

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consumers, is really more about "get this and never leave" model.

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But I wonder for how long?

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Maybe we'll learn more about that when the next Infinite Dial by

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Edison Research comes out next week.

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And maybe that will show us some of the shifts in behavior consumers are

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having right now, which might cause us, the creators of that content,

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to also shift our assumptions and our behaviors, as well.

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With that, I shall be back directly with yet another Podcast Pontifications.

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Cheers!

Evo Terra:

Podcast Pontifications is written and narrated by Evo Terra.

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He's on a mission to make podcasting better.

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Links to everything mentioned in today's episode are in the notes

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section of your podcast listening app.

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A written-to-be-read article based on today's episode is available at

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podcastpontifications.com where you'll also find a video version and a corrected

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transcript, both created by Allie Press.

Evo Terra:

Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.