Podcasts gain regional audience, entertainment tops charts
THE LOCAL APPEAL: As with any new medium, one must know the right content to create and whom to make it for.
UAE residents prefer to listen in for information and entertainment
Dubai - The year 2019 was monumental for the podcast industry, according to a 'State of the Industry' survey published by Amaeya Media, one of the UAE's largest podcast networks.
"While a large volume of data and research is available primarily in the US, as well as other markets, there is a lack of data exploring listenership behaviour in the region and how our trends stack against global averages.
"In an effort to address this gap, Amaeya Media carried out a consumer survey to help better quantify local podcast preferences. About 502 valid responses were received for the survey, which ran during November 2019. The survey was open to the public but targeted residents of the UAE, who formed 90 per cent of the respondents who completed the survey," the report stated.
Three findings have emerged from the study - a disconnect between local listeners and locally produced content; podcast discovery is still a major challenge; and local listeners find podcasts a great way to make the most of their time.
The report said that in order for local podcasters to grow their reach, there needs to be a stronger understanding of what listeners are looking for. There continues to be challenges regionally that need to be addressed to help create opportunities for the local ecosystem.
The results reflect an appetite for more podcasts, specifically in the categories of entertainment, arts and culture, and business and entrepreneurship. For local creators, there is still a lot of room for new content to be developed to fit the medium. It went on to state that listeners most preferred entertainment, which came out on top.
"While some local podcasters seem aware of the popularity of these topics, there are few active shows that cater to this genre. The 'Hangout with Rushdie' is popular within this category, while Rami Zeidan collaborated with celebrity host Big Hass to launch '7awwil' about the history of hip-hop in both Arabic and English. Overall though, there seems to be a large gap in content produced within this genre regionally," the study said.
Among non-listeners, over 40 per cent said they didn't know what podcasts are. Within the same group, 61 per cent said they could be persuaded to start listening if they had someone to guide them, or knew how to discover good shows.
Regional events like the Middle East Podcast Forum, which completed its second edition in 2019, or the first ON.DXB festival which conducted a panel, podcasts taking centre-stage, have helped with awareness among non-listeners but we are far from mainstream adoption within the region just yet.
According to the report, "we're still in a very nascent stage of the medium's own ecosystem, with significant growth expected among shows, listeners and collaborations across shows moving forward. And as brands continue to take notice globally, we expect they will look to work with varios local shows as well."