Since the dawn of podcasting the medium has been about on-demand audio. Now thanks to new technology, more podcasters are expanding the definition to include live audio streaming to fans. Today there’s another way to achieve that as the podcast listening app Castbox launches Livecast, a service that allows podcasters to go live with the tap of a button.
“Podcast listeners are already considered one of the most engaged audiences but podcasting itself has largely been a passive activity,” said Renee Wang, founder and CEO of Castbox. “As a dedicated podcast platform catering to power users, we’re introducing an interactive element that pulls the audience into the show to immerse them in audio content in an entirely new way.”
Livecast will be available regardless of whether the Castbox mobile or desktop apps are being used.
In an announcement, the company says Livecast will allow creators to offer listeners a live audio chat with up to eight simultaneous speakers and unlimited listeners. And as podcasting becomes more like talk radio, Livecast will allow listeners to call-in and ask questions, share their opinions and stories, and provide live feedback. But this being a digital medium, there’s also the ability for listeners to interact with hosts and other listeners via in-room message boards. And then in a full-circle moment for the podcast, Livecast allows hosts to auto-record the live show and upload it as a standalone on-demand podcast. Castbox says it will provide users with detailed metrics, including listenership, donations, and engagement, so hosts can improve their future live shows.
“As the podcast industry becomes more saturated and the race for original content heats up, our strategy is to innovate on the user experience with new features that elevate the podcasting experience beyond its roots as a static medium,” said Wang. Castbox compares it to the live streaming ability that platforms like Facebook and Twitch now give content creators.
Castbox says dozens of independent podcasters across several genres will use the Livecast feature to host live “Ask Me Anything” sessions with fans and share behind-the-scenes content. Up first is the daily business podcast Entrepreneurs on Fire as host John Lee Dumas hosts a live show today. Then on August 14 Mo Rocca’s historical podcast Mobituaries will host a live show.
There will also be a feature included on Livecast to allow listeners to support the podcast through virtual gifting. They’ll do that by purchasing in-app currency to send hosts emoji-like virtual gifts such as applause, roses, or even a golden microphone. Those gifts can then be converted and cashed out for real money via PayPal. Castbox says the feature is a way to give independent creators and studios new opportunities to monetize their brand and content.
In an interview earlier this month Wang said Castbox has nearly 30 million registered users with three million active daily users. The majority of the focus of the company is on user growth. “Right now two-thirds of users are from organic growth—from word of mouth because of sharing, because of all the high quality content on Castbox,” she said in an interview with Bloomberg. Wang said the company is “not yet” profitable but based on current trends she expects they will cross into the black by year’s end.