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How much is podcasting worth? Depends who you ask. It even depends on when you ask the same person.
Dave van Dyke, President & CEO of Bridge Ratings, sent a note indicating that on Thursday his company would upwardly revise podcast revenue projections through 2020. A chart with those projections accompanied the note, so the beans are spilled to some extent, and we look forward to the details later in the week.
The headline here is $534-million in podcast ad revenue in 2020, above an earlier prediction of $395-million. Bridge Ratings told Inside Radio that its numbers are derived from projected audience growth, plus interviews with at least two-dozen ad agencies.
Every podcasting story is a growth story these days. But how much growth, and at which monetary mileposts, nobody knows for sure. None of the networks which produce and distribute top programs is publicly traded, or has any reason to disclose financials. (Reader Justin Waite pointed out that London-based audioBoom is publicly traded. In the U.S., Pandora, Google, Apple and iHeartMedia are all represented in the American stock market, and are involved in podcasting to some extent, in different ways.)
In mid-2016 the Pew Research Center estimated the category to be worth $35-million. Bridge Ratings is calling 2016 at nearly $200-million.
In assessing the future, it might be more important to recognize the attraction of podcasting, the increasing recognition of major advertisers, and the potential impact on competing audio platforms if there are significant ad-spending shifts.
In Ken Doctor’s much-celebrated analysis of podcasting for Nieman Labs, Bryan Moffett (COO of National Public Media) calls 2016 a corner-turning year, and notes that NPR podcasts are scoring sponsorships from Fortune 100 national brands like Dell, Wells Fargo, and Target. That represents as change in the direction of money flow in audio advertising that all stakeholders should notice, whatever the yearly revenue numbers.