Southern Cross Austereo chief executive Grant Blackley said podcasting revenues were up 141 per cent in the first half of this year compared to the first half of 2019. In comparison, SCA’s overall revenue was up by 2.3 per cent for the 2019 fiscal year, according to the company’s most recent annual report.
“The [podcast] market has matured to the point of being economically robust and growing exponentially,” Mr Blackley said.
He said advertisers were after premium content that has a wide, on-demand reach. Kane Reiken, Nova’s digital commercial director, agreed.
“Podcasting has evolved so much,” he said. “It has become a real mainstay of the media habits of a lot of consumers.
“We [used to see] podcasting being spent as part of an innovation test-budget for campaigns. It’s how people justified the investment. But now we’re seeing it as an integral part of their media mix. We’ve seen repeated spend from blue-chip brands who are addicted to the environment.”
Nova recently signed The Chaser team to create a satirical news and current affairs podcast. It is The Chaser’s first major radio deal since leaving Triple M Sydney’s breakfast show last year.
“You’re able to be a bit more unusual and push the envelope in a podcast,” The Chaser’s Andrew Hansen said. “We can offer you maybe 10 minutes of stupidity on the subject of panic-buying rather than offering two minutes, which is what you’d do on the radio.”
TV and radio stars Hamish Blake and Andy Lee have hosted a podcast for several years. It began as a catch-up service for their top-rating Hit Network show but became a standalone series after the pair left the drive timeslot in 2017.
A former radio executive, who did not wish to be named, said it was not uncommon these days for a successful commercial podcast to make a six-figure profit.
However, money isn’t the only thing driving high-profile talent to podcast-only formats. Mr Tilley said it was exciting for a host to create their own show from scratch.
“This is a great way to harness the skills I’ve built up being on air for so many years, but have the flexibility to work on all the other exciting things I’m doing,” Mr Tilley said. “So that was the sweet spot for me personally.”
Last year, Mr Tilley signed a six-figure book deal with ABC Books to publish a coming-of-age memoir called Speaking in Tongues. The book, which will charter his experiences growing up in a pentecostal church, is scheduled for a 2021 release.
Broede Carmody is a culture reporter at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald