Let the world hear you!

Let the world hear you!

A free radio show without the disturbance of ads, no repetitive music, and full of wellresearched, wellthought out content This is what draws most people to podcasts, globally While India is still on the rise when it comes to the trend of podcasts, it does have a handful of really good shows

A free radio show without the disturbance of ads, no repetitive music, and full of well-researched, well-thought out content. This is what draws most people to podcasts, globally. While India is still on the rise when it comes to the trend of podcasts, it does have a handful of really good shows. A realisation of the possibilities of mobile internet and a gradual dislike for the unintelligible noise of television and radio has begun to set into the Indian audience, as they look for detailed, interesting content that they can listen to while commuting or working.

The challenge of podcasting
Increasingly it can be observed that the attention span of the modern Indian is on the wane. People do not want to pay attention to anything that doesn’t hook them in. The principle of advertising wherein if you can’t reel them in within 3 seconds, you can’t reel them in at all applies here perfectly.

The proliferation of smartphones in India and the rapid expansion in internet usage has given a boost to the podcasting business, which has been failing for many years, unlike in many Western countries. The advantage podcasters have over traditional radio stations including FM, is that they can broadcast from anywhere and the listener can tune in to specific programmes on smartphones, as there are several podcast apps - whenever they want and wherever they are.

The market is open for various players to make their move, but they face a difficult challenge. In a country like India, where people love to talk and gossip, the fact that podcasting has not already caught on is surprising but can also be traced to the history of radio. In the earlier days there were iconic radio spokespersons like Ameen Sayani, who made the nation tune in their radio sets, but that kind of an atmosphere has long gone. Podcasting is now the new medium to bring forth a voice like Ameen Sayani to the people and most new start-ups are trying to climb that hill of ensuring that people tune in and access their content.

Content dictates podcast’s success
Various companies are now stepping into the podcast scene and trying to enrich it with vernacular content as well. Organisations like Hubhopper and Momspresso to name a few are the front runners in the content war that’s raging across the Indian landscape.

One of the method companies are adopting is by making audio stories that are both engaging and intriguing. Headfone, the social media platform where users share their stories via voice recordings made two original audios, Shikaar and Stranger, both of which received much praise. Another original audio series which gained widespread popularity was Serial by Savnn which covered the Aarushi Talwar murder case.

The Indian audience is now exposed to a variety of content available online and people are increasingly consuming content in rapid numbers. While most companies cater to the general norm of topics like fitness, health, meditation, etc, a few try to break the mould by targeting an unusual audience, moms and newly married women!

Vishal Gupta, the CEO and co-founder of Momspresso said, “Our content goes through a rigorous process of curation. Only 30 per cent of the blogs we receive are published on our platform. We have a set of editorial guidelines that every piece of content has to adhere to and quality is absolutely key.

We ensure that each piece of content that is published on the platform has relevance for moms and addresses their needs as parents as well as women. Further, we include topical content that appeals to women across the country. We have demarcated certain content buckets Beautiful/Useful/Funny/Inspirational, and all of our content falls into one or more of these buckets.

He also pointed out that having users share content and make money while doing it is another popular aspect which has drawn women to Momspresso. For instance, Rituparna from Lucknow, who recently left her job after marriage likes to share her views via 100-word stories on Momspresso's app. She contributes as a writer and reviewer from various brands associated with Momspresso.

Mandeep Singh Chawla, a photography student said, “I like to listen to old classic Bollywood songs on Player FM, it’s a great platform for me to listen to other people’s playlists and discover some unheard-of songs as well.”

Aggregating content with AI
Hubhopper on the other hand works as a content aggregator ensuring that it can target a large audience base and that there is something for everyone who visits the platform. It has gained the status of being India’s largest podcast library and uses AI and machine learning tools extensively to strengthen its recommendation platform while offering granular-level personalised content. Implementing AI has helped the company expand its users and publisher base and has also helped it see a surge in user activity that requires the implementation of AI to generate optimum content recommendations for listeners.

Gautam Raj Anand, CEO and founder of Hubhopper said, “We source raw content from channels and publishers across India, our editorial team just ensures that it does not have anything inappropriate. In case of the file size being an issue, our team contacts the creator directly and we ask them to edit it accordingly, so that it remains true to their original vision.”

He further added that popular genres such as health, education, history, business, technology, sports, etc, are gaining popularity at a high pace amongst urban millennials. Their content connects users to the stories of their childhood and ancient Indian epics, Premchand Stories, Mahabharata, Retro Music and tales from Panchatantra and reinterprets them for modern audiences. An interesting observation is the fact that, contrary to popular belief, desi or Indianised content is what appeals to people the most.

The advantage of using Hubhopper is that consumers can save their time, energy as well the space on their phones by accessing all trending news, stories and podcasts in a unified view under a managed interface. With Hubhopper, the user no longer needs to access multiple platforms to get updates on politics, art, lifestyle, literature etc. This system ensures that more and more people are tuning into Hubhopper not only as content consumers but as content creators as well. With enough users contributing, the company can eventually focus on the editorial aspect and lessen the strain of sourcing content by itself.

The future of podcasting in India
Podcasting is steadily getting popular among the people with even comedians like Vir Das indulging in it with his own take on the format labelling it as a ‘pot cast’. With initiatives like Digital India launched by the government, the impetus fields like Podcasting have received has been high. More number of people are logging in online and are having a digital presence. Free internet services and reduced data charges have enabled the Indian audience to access the internet more easily thereby giving companies an expanded user base by the day.

- Pratap Pranay

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