The Business of Podcast Networks in Africa | Day 5/30

podcasting networks in Africa

Oh, look! Yet another money-related prompt. That I’m interested in.

Suppose I had a huge pile of money lying around, possibly from the jackpot (remember the jackpot?) I got or from a venture capital funded by this wealthy investor I was connected with at a Podcast conference somewhere in Nairobi. Better yet, assuming I happen to have made loads of money from years of sweat and a prayer(?), what business venture do I intend to pursue?

Startup ideas come up more than twice a day in my head but I stop at the initial stages. Because again, we barely dream beyond our arms reach, remember? What I don’t stop myself from obsessing over, is building my own Podcast Network. I see this venture as a realistic, more than likely, soon to happen dream that I may fully dip my toe into.

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A podcast network is a network of podcasts connected by a similar theme, genre, partnership, or ownership. The idea is to spread their listener bases to each others’ shows. Networks are also distributors who produce and acquire content, then make it available to audiences. They make finding new shows easy by curating quality content and putting it all in one place for listeners.

If you listen to a large number of podcasts, then there’s a good chance that several of them are affiliated to a podcast network. The heavy hitters of the podcast network world are benefitting from the podcasting revenue boom. This is despite warnings of the Podcast bubble bursting in this era.

Podcasts are an increasingly attractive medium for digital advertising. The audience has embraced the appeal and the surge in numbers is clear. The number of podcasters has exploded and simultaneously the quality of the content and production value. This growth has generated an increase in ad revenues. Media and Music companies have also taken notice and want in on the shares. The business is lucrative.

Streaming service and distributor Spotify which is in the business of brokering exclusives with creators and personalization of user experience with their new playlist feature to make better recommendations has fully bought into the podcast ecosystem buying Gimlet, Parcast and Anchor while at it. The Ringer Podcast Network which makes up a huge amount of my personal listening made ad sales that beat $15 million in 2018.

The current gold rush in launching Podcast Networks back here in Africa has seen the pioneer hitmakers and potential game changers work harder to figure out the model for podcast success, reaping the rewards meanwhile. Cliff Central, one of the very first online radio and podcasting platform in Africa changed the South Africa audio landscape attracting traditional radio stations to this format.

Kaya FM remodelled their approach to how they offer digital content to their listeners and this has definitely grown their podcast listenership loyalty. Portable Voices, a Kenyan audiobook production company and Podcast Network have a Creatives Club that provides support to its creators through editing, scriptwriting and production.

Other Podcast Networks thriving in Africa include Colourful Radio, Lutcha, Afripods, The Gold Coast Report, Agora Podcast Network, Impact Africa Network, African Podcasts Network, Pod Africa, and What’s Good Network.

“The notion that a network is going to spot raw talent and scoop it up, making you wealthy (or at least wealthy by podcast standards) and famous (or at least famous by podcast standards) is a myth.” – Eric Nuzum

The business of podcasting does not only hold success stories. The failures are well documented. The meteoric rise in the blogging era brought upon by big blog networks such as Gawker and Weblog did not last long in the market. Are we likely to see a similar fate with Podcast networks?

Luminary is a subscription service that builds businesses primarily off of paywalled content and is home to podcast networks and independent podcasters. On its launch, it recorded a disastrous rollout into the marketplace forcing the podcasters and big networks to exit the stage. This is to say that near misses occur too and as a creator, you have to think long and hard about what you’re getting yourself into within the industry. Read the fine print.

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What’s in my fine print? 

  • A team that is extremely passionate and all efforts come from a place of care
  • You retain full creative control (flexibility, independence and expression)
  • The best advertising deals and a streamlined process for the advertisers
  • Routine press coverage and articles, boosting listenership
  • The ability to join a collective of podcasts and bounce ideas off of each other
  • Increased visibility will boost download numbers
  • The opportunity to network with one another and cross-promote shows
  • The chance to brand your show as a part of a bigger group
  • Website and Hosting provided by the network
  • Sharing production resources
  • Flexible terms

My mission would be to ease up the workload that accompanies creating content. This means taking over responsibility right after they produce their podcast episodes to when it’s consumed by their audience. The creator will have all the time to concentrate on making a good show.

As you may have noticed, all these variants in my fine print require huge swaths of cash to pull it off comfortably but since I do not have the funding currently, a DIY Podcast Network would suffice.

PS. If you’re a podcaster thinking of joining a Podcast Network, or you’re an investor seeking to pump in some venture capital before the controversial CBK deadline, this was my pitch to you!

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2 Comments

  1. June 6, 2019 / 11:15 am

    Been thinking about podcast networks especially the black one (LSN) and the possibility of the same being replicated here!! DO IT!!

    • Lila
      Author
      June 6, 2019 / 5:08 pm

      So I’m just checking out LSN now and it has all the faves! I love it. I have toyed with this idea for so long and it’s only fair that I get to do something about it. Thank you for the push Ciiku.

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