There’s cash in those podcasts..says The Guardian

The Guardian, the producers of Media Talk and the Sony Award nominated Islamophonic, has revealed some impressive download stats for its range of podcasts.

Some stats:
1.5m – downloads for its 12 Guardian pods in December.
80-100,000 downloads of it’s Football Weekly pod a week [Proving that football and cricket analysis has a massive, global, audience – but we don’t need to tell The Times or Telegraph this].
15-20,000: MediaTalk downloads a week.


To put these figures in some kind of perspective BBC London, a local radio station, pulls in weekly audience of around 500,000 a week for its entire output.

Assuming the other Guardian pods not mentioned above are getting an average of around 10,000 downloads per week each, it appears its investment in pod studio technology is finally paying off and the service should become profitable soon.

But how easy is to generate revenue from podcasts? On paper, they have a lot going for them. If you look at the ludicrous way traditional radio figures are counted in the UK by Rajar [Rajar reissues listening figures], you can be far more precise with measurements. Evidence from Edison in the US suggests podcasts audiences are upmarket, I also feel podcast audiences really do listen.They’ve bothered to download the file after all. But whilst the market is expanding, it is still relatively small. Rajar estimated around 15-20% of those with MP3 players have downloaded podcasts,  this is broadly matched by figures from the US.

But I’m not entirely sure how The Guardian plan to integrate the adverts into the broadcast. It has tried sponsorship before on the Media Talk pod, but I just fast forwarded through it.

It would be less annoying if sponsorship messages or adverts appeared on the screen of your iPod or Zen Micro, rather than having to listen to it.

But hopefully these stats will give a much needed boost to UK podcasts. It would be nice to see some successful independent and home produced pods coming through, as has happened in the US. But we need the big guys to prove a revenue model first.

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2 Responses to There’s cash in those podcasts..says The Guardian

  1. Sean McManus May 22, 2008 at 9:53 am #

    Are you sure podcast audiences really do listen to podcasts? Media companies are counting downloads, not listens, and so they’re only approximating. I’ve lost count of the number of podcasts I’ve downloaded and not had time to listen to before they’re superseded by another episode. And people are not usually actively downloading either – it’s usually automated after they’ve chosen to subscribe. I’d be interested to see a survey that quantifies how many of the podcasts downloaded are actually played.

  2. Steve Hill May 27, 2008 at 1:37 pm #

    Hi Sean,
    Ta for the comment. I take that point about how many ‘active’ listeners there are. But measuring downloads has got to be better than attempting to rate how many people are listening to commercial radio.
    My views on podcasts are split between thinking they just act as useful time-shift / archive for shows you missed [i.e. the BBC model] or whether they have a real long term appeal as a standalone shows [The Guardian and some other newspapers]
    It will be interesting to see how Channel 4 Radio works..