Investing In The Podcast Ecosystem In 2019

Andreessen Horowitz thoughts on podcasting and why Smash Notes fits right in

Kirill Zubovsky / September 4th, 2019

Andreessen Horowitz wrote a fantastic report on the state of podcasting and where it might be going. I downloaded and read the full PDF, and here's what I learned. Podcast consumption is growing rapidly, with 25% of all Americans now listening to 6+ hours every week, on average. Listeners are 30% educated, 44% millennials, and almost 50% male/female ratio. Although Apple Podcasts are still dominating as the player of choice, Spotify (with their acquisition of is catching up. It's a power law distribution where most listeners are using the top-few apps, and all other apps are getting negligible traffic. Coincidentally, same goes for podcast creators, where the best podcasts get most of the downloads, and hobby creators end up with the long tail. True Crime podcasts occupy 5 out of the top 15 spots. Perhaps one of the most amazing finding has to do with monetization - Podcasts monetize at only $0.01 per listener hour, 10x less than radio, 20x less than internet, and 70x less than Newspapers! It seems there is a lot of room for improvement. Report writers, Li Jin, Avery Segal, and Bennett Carroccio speculate that low ad monetization is due to poor availability of data around deliverability and listeners. I'd be curious to know what Marc Andreessen himself thinks about podcasts, since he played a role in inventing the internet as we know it, but outside of that, the report lays out pretty clear what a16z might be willing to fund in the coming years. 1) Full-stack platforms that tailor to specific verticals. 2) Social audio platforms where social is the cornerstone, instead of an add-on feature. 3) Platforms for podcast monetization which would enable individuals to power their own end-to-end experience. I find these last bits particularly interesting because although we've see a lot of podcast-players coming online, and quite a few pay-to-play apps in the recent months, there's been virtually ZERO podcast-specific social apps that offer original content worth paying for. With 700K+ podcasts and growing, our listening time is staying constant. As Apple (and Spotify) control distribution, and players like Amazon, Facebook and MSFT inevitably entering the market, the fight for our ears will be very heated, very soon. Personally, I am betting that will become a platform that offers this new original content worth paying for, a place for podcasters to differentiate their offering, and to engage listeners on a deeper level, beyond endless hours of audio. James Beshara from Below the Line, Hiten Shah from The Startup Chat, Funsize and the team behind The Hustle and other notable podcasters are already investing their time, money and energy into making sure their users can get the best podcast notes, and more podcasters are waiting to get started. Podcasting is the new crypto and the future is in podcast notes. Follow, subscribe, and see how it unfolds for yourself.

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