The Podcasting Boom During the Coronavirus Pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, some things were impossible to get ahold of in the United States for at least some time during the start of the pandemic. Toilet paper, yeast, and hand sanitizer would barely be on the shelves for more than 5 minutes on restocking days when the pandemic was first starting. It wasn’t just common household goods that were frequently out of stock, however. Lots of pieces of technology, such as the Nintendo Switch, sold out very quickly at the start of the pandemic and stayed sold out for a while. Another part of technology that met this same fate? Microphones. The want-to-be podcasters finally decided to stake their claim in the growing media empire. The podcast industry is one of the few industries that have been left relatively untouched by the pandemic, and for several reasons.
One of these reasons is that, as things like TV and video games, podcasts are something that people have decided to do while bored during the pandemic. Podcasts have been a rapidly growing form of media in the past decade, with most people in the United States having heard about what a podcast is. Millions of people in America listen to at least one show regularly, with the average listener subscribed to at least seven shows.. Before the pandemic, a large percentage of listening used to be during people’s daily commute to work. However, the nature of the podcast made it relatively easy for it to become part of people’s home lives and new routines as more and more people began staying home due to the pandemic. In the United States, according to Burrelles, 18% of adults have increased the amount they listen to podcasts due to the social distancing and isolation felt in the pandemic. Given how many people live alone but still need the sound of a human voice to keep themselves sane, it makes sense that people would turn to things like TV or podcasts.
However, unlike a TV show, a podcast is very easy to carry on with even if people cannot meet in-person to record. With television shows, everything that was filming when the pandemic hit had to pause for a while, but podcasts were able to continue on as usual. As long as people have access to equipment, software, and an internet connection, a podcast can be recorded, edited, and uploaded from anywhere. The team behind the podcast doesn’t have to worry about testing, social distancing, or wearing masks when they’re meeting over Zoom and recording from the comfort of their living rooms. This is most likely the condition that lots of podcasts were already being recorded under anyways. Further, this ease of access helped encourage people who were being forced to stay home because of the pandemic.
The podcast industry wasn’t touched by the pandemic as much as other industries because of the relative ease of creating a podcast and then monetizing it. The business of advertising in podcasts is a billion-dollar industry, which is certainly an incentive for people who may be experiencing financial insecurity. A podcast is a relatively easy way to tap into money from paid advertising because it’s all just audio. As long as you know how to do primary research or write a script and edit and mix audio, you can make a podcast. And because podcasts usually hit niches for many people who listen to them, it’s easy to build an audience big enough for advertisers to start looking at your podcast for them to work out a sponsorship potentially. And in the age of people preferring to support small content creators, these sponsorships can be lucrative with a large enough following. Of course, starting a podcast doesn’t immediately mean that you will get money; like every opportunity to make money, it is a risk. However, because podcasts aren’t as saturated as other forms of media, such as YouTube, your chances are certainly better in podcasts than elsewhere. Many people who listen to a podcast about one topic more than likely listen to several on the same or similar issues, as well, so there’s slightly less competition from that angle as well.
So, to sum things up, podcasting in the United States exploded during the pandemic because it’s a relatively easy hobby that most people can do in a time of social distancing and staying at home under lockdown. Podcasting is a slightly smaller competitive field for gaining followers and sponsorships for monetization. Hopefully, even with the boom in podcasts during the past year and a half, there won’t be an oversaturation in the medium.