Peak Video: The Golden Age of Podcasts


2015 was the year video came to life. Did you think video was only cats and babies on YouTube? Think again. Up until 2015 video was an untapped channel of content waiting to be shaped by a marketer and directed towards an audience. Then we cottoned on. In just 12 months 50% of mobile traffic was spent watching videos online and 55% of people watched a video online every single day.

But, like every boom, it’s had its heyday. Now on Facebook, where over 5 billion pieces of content are shared daily, 85% of users watch videos without sound. So unless your video content can be understood without audio, you had better incorporate subtitles. We’re not suggesting that video is dying, otherwise we’d recommend The Buggles get writing another hit, but that the rise of video is beginning to plateau.

You may have heard the phrase ‘peak TV’ being thrown around last year. The phrase truly wormed its way into public consciousness when FX chief executive John Landgraf suggested there was simply ‘too much television’. Last year in the US, 1,400 primetime shows were aired – 412 of which were original scripted series. Netflix, a once humble streaming service now boasts its own range of originally scripted series and films. Most notably Orange Is the New Black, which is now on its fourth season, recently renewed for a further three, has garnered (I hope you’re ready for this list):

  • 16 Primetime Emmy Award nominations (winning four)
  • 6 Golden Globe Award nominations
  • 6 Writers Guild of America Award nominations
  • 5 Satellite Awards
  • 4 Critics’ Choice Television Awards
  • 2 Producers Guild of America Awards
  • An American Film Institute Award
  • A Peabody Award
  • A GLAAD Media Award

AND two of the actresses have received individual recognition. Honestly, I could go on. The point being that OITNB had huge critical recognition, opening the gateway for big budget production – and now there is an endless stream of Netflix originals.

At the most recent Television Critics Association (TCA), Landgraf said “I think we are ballooning into a condition of oversupply which will at some point slowly deflate” – and I don’t think he’s wrong. I’ve often logged onto Netflix of a lunch time in the office and become overwhelmed by the quantity of TV that I just have not watched. Will my friends still accept me? What if I read spoilers online? How am I going to get involved in the office discussion?

It’s this oversaturation that’s killing the rise of video. Every marketer, advertiser and influencer wants a piece of the video pie, and once they all have a piece, consumers will switch off. Content is king, yes, but as we all know quality > quantity. Video doesn’t need big budgets either. Look at Tasty, it started off as a simple vlog recipe, now it boasts over 69 million likes on Facebook. With the right idea and good artistic direction your video will still be seen and have an impact –don’t push average content for the sake of hitting quotas.

What happens if video does reach its eventual demise? What could possibly be more engaging, attention grabbing and as easy to clarify a message than visual and audio together (all marketers’ desperately plea). How about, just audio? Or rather, podcasting; video’s less attractive but smarter sibling.

Podcasts have seen a huge rise in downloads, thanks to phenomenon Serial from This American Life, which made it to the top of iTunes before its debut – and retained the top spot for numerous weeks.

Well-known brands are betting big on podcasts this year, companies such as eBay, GE, Netflix and Financial Times are putting out original content in audio form. But the best part? They’re partnering with podcast companies. Why? Because they already have the skills, the expertise in audio production and the existing audience to cross-promote the content.

EBay’s podcast series ‘Open for Business’ reached more than 200% of its download goal and even took the top spot for business podcasts in iTunes when it launched in June.

What is the moral of the story then? There will always be a place for video, but I think the ‘golden age’ could be passing; we should prepare ourselves for ‘post-video’ and make way for audio to enter the content competition. Whatever content you create it will do well if it’s constructed right – with strategy, expertise and originality.

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