Podcasting Trumps Radio [First South African Podcasting Data Released]

My company Matt Brown Media is currently underway with the largest independent research initiative into the South African podcasting industry. The response and support from the media has been great with Bizcommunity, Times Media Group, Entrepreneur Magazine & IT Web all helping to drive awareness and traction of the research project.

Radio vs Podcasting

One of the questions in the survey is the following: “If you had to choose between listening to a podcast or the radio, what would you choose?” Initial data from the research has revealed that a large majority of South African’s prefer to listen to podcasts than the radio.

Here is my take on why this is the case.

A Compelling Case for Podcasts Over Radio

An On-demand Economy

Consumers have shifted almost completely towards on-demand content consumption.

DSTV’s PVR decoder and online video streaming services like Netflix and ShowMax have driven chord cutting behavior amongst connected consumers. No longer is it necessary to wait for the airing of your preferred show or miss that sports highlight package you have been after. Everything is on demand – right there, when and where you need it.

Podcasts are no different. Once you subscribe to a show, your podcast feed is automatically updated and the content is downloaded without you having to lift a finger. This is a little-known but powerful disruption when it comes to the distribution of mobile content. Podcasts also enable a “lean back” content consumption experience. If you have a smartphone, podcasts literally go with you everywhere you (and your mobile phone) go.

Contrary to that, the programming of traditional radio lends itself to sporadic engagement from the listenership – while radio may be ‘always on’ listeners can very easily miss their favorite show segments if they are not listening to the radio at the right time. Interestingly, the adoption of WhatsApp voice notes to further amplify the equity in traditional radio programming I believe, is the pre-cursor to wide spread adoption of post-air radio content i.e. podcasting will eventually become an augmentation of traditional radio so you never miss anything. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s likely that broadcasters will catch on at some point to further extend the reach of its programming.

Traditional Radio Can Be Depressing

Mainstream news, sponsored advertisements and traffic updates generally combine to create a somewhat depressing radio experience overall.

When I was interviewing the former CEO of Vodacom Romeo Kumalo he mentioned this exact same thing. Interestingly, his exact words were: “I actually cannot listen to the radio anymore. It’s completely depressing.”

Naturally, I switched him onto the world of podcasting and he has never looked back and it seems that this trend is confirmed in the data with 76% of consumers preferring to listen to a podcast over the radio, once they have made the switch.

Podcasts Enable Informal Learning at Scale

Informal learning is defined as a way of learning which arises from the interests and activities of individuals. The depth and breadth of content dwarfs that which traditional radio can offer. With the world changing at the rate that it is, education and the ability to self-learn to remain relevant is becoming ever greater.

When it comes to podcasting, there is literally a show for every kind of interest that you may have regardless of how niche your interest may be. For example, it is unlikely that you will find content driven experiences like “My Dad Wrote a Porno” on traditional radio, yet this particular show has been named as one of the “must listen” podcasts of 2016 by BuzzFeed and one of the best podcasts of 2016 by Stuff magazine – even Adele the global pop star icon listens to the show. It’s kind of a big deal.


The fragmentation and digitization of media has given rise to on-demand mobile based content consumption. Thanks to a maturing podcasting industry and unprecedented access to smartphone technology, consumers are making the switch to podcast delivered news, entertainment and education – a world where the consumer has complete control and authority over the content they want to listen to.

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