iPod2019

Apple may not have podcasts geared toward kids in mind as it rolls out an updated iPod Touch, but producers of those shows may be the biggest beneficiaries among audio producers. That’s because new survey data shows that while most smartphone owners don’t see the need for a new version of an mp3 player, the iPod Touch has some appeal to young people who may not need or cannot afford an iPhone.

Civic Science finds 16% of those surveyed under the age of 18 said they were either “very” or “somewhat” likely to buy the new iPod Touch. That compares to 9% of 18-54 year olds who said the same. “And why might those under 18 be interested in an iPod? Americans between the ages of 13 and 17 own smartphones at ‘only’ a 70% clip, lower than any other age group,” the report says. Gaming may drive interest in the iPod Touch, but Civic Science says parents of children between the ages of 6 and 11 are 43% more likely to say they’re interested in purchasing one themselves. That’s especially true for moms.

Why does this matter for podcasters? This generation of young people is growing up as podcast listeners and children-targeted content is seen as a growth area for podcasters even as some shows are already proving there’s an audience. The most downloaded kids-targeted podcast to date is believed to be Gimlet Media’s Chompers, the twice-daily podcast designed to keep kids ages 3-7 brushing. It’s been downloaded well more than a million times. Gimlet is now working on a Happy Meal Time Travel Challenge for McDonald’s.

Public media’s PRX and Boston’s WGBH last month announced they have partnered with Gen-Z Media to produce what’s described as an “action-adventure podcast” for kids. Molly of Denali is an eight-part series that is designed as a prequel to the new PBS Kids animated series of the same name. The television series is set to premiere on July 15 on PBS stations around the U.S.

But the biggest push into kid-targeted podcasts has come from Pinna. The company began in 2017 as a pilot under podcasting network Panoply Media. But after Panoply announced it would get out of the content business and instead focus on hosting and ad services, the direction shifted. Pinna relaunched in January as a stand-alone entity backed by Graham Holdings, with more than a thousand podcast episodes and other audio content including audiobooks and songs. Among the content partners are American Public Media, Scholastic, and Highlights magazine.

Pinna is also testing test the waters of whether subscription-based podcasts are viable. It will offer parents a 30-day free trial after which it will charge $7.99 per month or $79.99 for an annual plan. But Pinna believes if parents can be reassured the ad-free content is age-appropriate, high-quality and most importantly, entertaining, they’ll be willing to pay for it.