Generic Pod Listening 220

Nearly three-quarters of broadcast radio stations have created a podcast, with many still focused on building an audience rather than monetizing the content. A survey of radio managers by Borrell Associates for the Radio Advertising Bureau finds 73% of stations have produced a podcast, including half of which said they produce several per week – typically of repurposed radio shows.

“It seemed it scaled back a little bit, this past year from where it was in previous years,” said Borrell Associates CEO Gordon Borrell said during an RAB webinar.

The survey shows that there are some stations that are not yet fully committed to on-demand audio. Twenty-seven percent of managers said their station does not produce any podcasts while one in four reported their station only produces a podcast when the right opportunity presents itself. And 14% are still in the experimental phase, as the station figures out how it fits into their overall strategy.

For broadcasters, the big lure will likely be demand from local advertisers. Borrell data suggests that has not yet occurred. Its survey of 2,242 local ad buyers found just 13% are currently buying streaming audio advertisements. 

“We continue to see streaming audio appealing to a very small percentage of advertisers,” Borrell said. “There is not significant growth there, although those participating in it are spending a nice chunk of money, close to what they are spending on overall radio advertising. It’s a different group of people that have a lot of money in their budget and tend to buy twice as many things as the typical advertiser.”

The medium has made bigger inroads with local ad agencies where nearly half said they are buying streaming audio ads.

“We don’t see huge demand. Podcasts are exciting and fun, but just be cautious there’s not huge demand. I think podcasts need a little more time at the local level to find their way,” said Borrell. “The key in getting podcasts sponsored is with agencies – they just seem more attuned to the marketing value and the branding value of streaming audio.”

The slow uptake by advertisers could explain why Borrell’s survey of radio found four in ten stations have not yet begun to monetize their podcasts. 

Borrell reports broadcast radio’s digital ad revenue hit $1.1 billion in 2020, an 11.8% gain from a year earlier. It calculates digital now makes up more than 14% of total radio ad sales. The average station collected $290,150 in digital revenue in 2020, according to the ninth annual digital revenue and benchmarking report it produced with the RAB.

Borrell’s radio findings are based on an online survey of radio managers conducted in December 2020 and January 2021 consisting of 238 respondents representing approximately 2,400 radio stations. That was supplemented with data from Borrell’s database of digital revenue and expenses for 11,463 local online operations in the U.S. and Canada, including 3,621 local radio stations, along with Borrell’s database of local ad spending estimates and a survey of 944 local radio advertisers conducted from September to November 2020.