BIGGEST IN IRELAND: Look at the iTunes Podcast Charts on any given day and the top shows in Ireland are either the 2 Johnnies or Blindboy. The former claims 250,000 listeners a week, while the latter has a Patreon with 5,000 listeners each paying $5 a month.
Both appeal to young male audiences, the Johnnies with their casual banter, Blindboy with his mental health insights.
BIGGEST IN THE WORLD: The Joe Rogan Experience. An ‘alternative’ comedian best known for hosting reality TV show Fear Factor, Rogan was an early adopter of podcasts in the early/mid-Noughties, and now clocks up three or four two-hour shows a week.
They’re long, meandering affairs and usually don’t feature household names, but they casually gain a couple of million listeners. No one else comes close.
STEPPING UP TO THE STAGE: Cork Podcast Festival had its inaugural run in October, with its Dublin counterpart spreading shows across the following month.
The likes of It Galz and The Guilty Feminist are live mainstays and many more are stepping up to the stage, despite a small — but dedicated — listenership. That’s where the money is.
PROVIDERS: Spotify invested hundreds of millions of dollars in 2019 acquiring three podcast studios, including Gimlet (home to Crimetown, among others), and securing an exclusive audio development deal with the likes of the Obamas.
Apple’s iTunes has been the kingpin of podcast providers but now faces stiff competition. Add in the likes of Audible and the deep-pockets upstart of Luminary and, like the splintered TV world at the moment, you may struggle to find the home of the big new podcasts in 2020.
ADAPTATIONS: Acclaimed movie The Farewell was based on an episode of This American Life (‘What You Don’t Know’), while Dirty John and Homecoming were two big Netflix and Amazon series adaptations, respectively. With original ideas in the cinema squeezed by Disney and superheroes, IP (intellectual property) that comes with a readymade fanbase, such as podcasts, could be the starting point for many creators.
BUBBLE: The joke goes that a group of white men having a conversation is called a podcast.
There are so many shows now vying for your ears and attention, most with miniscule listenerships and zero chance of making money, that ones wonders will it eat itself.
With big stars from Conan O’Brien to Bressie starting shows, will the little guy just give up?