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NEW DELHI : With an estimated 40 million podcast listeners in India, the sector is witnessing a 60% growth as new firms and new shows swamp the market.

To put it in perspective, dating platform Bumble is launching an eight-part series (Is Romance Dead?) around dating, relationships and love on Spotify, while Apple Podcasts will host interviews and behind-the scenes information in a series on the new James Bond film No Time to Die.

The pandemic-induced lockdown drove Indians to tune into devotional, spiritual and fun audio content.

Swedish audio streaming app Spotify, which launched original podcasts in the country late last year, in September, introduced the first crime original --Death, Lies & Cyanide. Its top podcasts in India for the summer were The Ranveer Show, a motivational programme hosted by Ranveer Allahbadia, TED Talks Daily, Harry Potter At Home: Readings, and The Michelle Obama Podcast.

The platform reported an increased interest in news podcasts, and put together a covid-19 hub or a collection of podcasts from platforms such as CNN, BBC World, ABC News and others.

“Indian Gen Zs are reimagining their role in society -- they’re rewriting the playbook and ready to take action on some of the most pressing issues and opportunities we face. When asked about the elements that fuel their self-discovery, 65% cited music and 60% cited podcasts," Spotify said referring to its Culture Next Trends Report released in September. In a statement at the launch of its audio series, Bumble said podcasts are a powerful medium that Gen Z and millennial audiences in India are regularly tuning into.

Meanwhile, JioSaavn and Gaana, Apple also report an increase in both their podcast catalogues and the time listeners spend on them.

JioSaavn, the audio streaming service owned by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, has seen its podcast catalogue increase by 200 times since 2019 with over 60% of users aged between 18 and 35 years having reported listening to podcasts weekly, as of September 2020.

In the initial phase of the lockdown when commutes came to a standstill, audio streaming platforms saw a 32% drop in consumption, according to a report by television viewership agency BARC and data measurement firm Nielsen. A Counterpoint research later suggested that for the second quarter of 2020, starting June-end, growth in the sector returned riding on improvisation and focus on podcasts.

JioSaavn said its podcasts have gained traction in metro cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Kolkata as well as sub-metros like Patna, Lucknow, Jaipur, and Bhopal. In fact, podcast streams from Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh accounted for 25% of all the podcast streams in 2020.

Prashan Agarwal, CEO, Gaana said Indians are exploring new genres of music and audio content. “…podcasts have emerged as a clear favourite among many listeners, with storytelling, motivational, devotional and kids being the top genres. This is aligned with the overall increase in traffic as people are increasingly turning to music streaming platforms to relax and soothe themselves in times of such crisis," Agarwal added.

“Habit formation around listening to pod hosts brings about a feeling of hanging out with your friends and hence one will look forward to tuning in every week. Podcasts can entertain, counsel, inform, teach without too much screen engagement and hence facilitate multi-tasking, which at a time like this important," Kavita Rajwade, co-founder of IVM Podcasts had said in an earlier interview to Mint.

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