9 Things We Learned from Ofcom’s 2021 Podcast Survey


5. Podcasts Are Not Radio, and Radio Is Not A Podcast

Such an important point is worth saying twice, so here goes…

The majority of respondents in the previous graph show a clear trend for choosing different mediums for different reasons:

  • Music radio and streaming services are perfect background noise
  • Speech radio is the medium of choice for news coverage
  • Audiobooks are used for relaxing (particularly before sleep)
  • Podcasts are for entertainment and/or education

This sounds pretty common sense, but it highlights an incredibly important distinction.

These mediums are not in competition; rather, they can successfully co-exist by playing to their strengths and collaborating effectively when the content justifies.

Podcasts are not better than radio because they’re not live and it’s not spontaneous. People will always listen to the radio to hear new music, or to get breaking news coverage, but they cannot go to the radio for specialist factual content, or long-form conversational topics, or even unscripted comedy – that’s where podcasts can deliver better than anywhere else. Radio offers structure, reliability and immediacy, while podcasts provide expertise, high production value and enormous creative licence.

These formats can and do work in tandem and radio stations embrace the potential of podcasts, while services such as Podcast Radio utilise the trust in radio to help people discover the best podcasts. The lines are getting blurrier, but the best content creators should understand how to leverage the right platform in the right ways.

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