Situation: meditation apps become more successful than podcasts

    Podcasts have become a habitual media abroad: 44% of Americans listened to audio transmissions at least once, and about a quarter of US residents listened to at least one every month.

    Podcast listeners are young and educated people, many of whom use video services based on the paid subscription model. However, creators of podcast platforms often fail to monetize their audio applications in a similar fashion.

    However, another player appeared on the audio application market with “conversational” content that successfully earns revenue through the sale of subscriptions. This is a meditation application.

    Let us see what is similar and what is the difference between these players in this niche of audio content.

    Photo by Tina Leggio / CC

    What happened to the market for audio applications

    For several years, podcast apps have only been striving to create a universal platform with a paid subscription using the Netflix model, meditation applications are already doing it. This fact is primarily noted by investors - so they are more willing to invest in the segment of applications with “meditative” audio content.

    For comparison, the most successful platform for podcasts with paid subscriptions feature is not received investments of more than $ 36 million (the company Acast investors invested 35.2 million dollars, and in Castbox - 29.6 mn). At the same time, the volume of investments in the most successful meditation application with a paid subscription - Headspace - is 75.2 million.

    The market valuation of the two largest companies in the field of audio content for meditation - Calm and Headspace - exceeds $ 250 million for each. Platforms for podcasts on this indicator are also lagging behind - the same Acast is estimated “only” at 131 million dollars.

    Although there is a criterion by which the podcast segment still finds itself in a better position, the cumulative volume of the audience of listeners. The podcast industry in Western countries is quite developed: according to a 2018 Infinite Dial study, 26% of Americans (73 million people) listen to podcasts at least once a month. StudyAcast in the UK showed that 23% of the population (15.1 million people) at least once listened to podcasts in the month preceding the survey.

    Compared to these figures, the audience for meditation applications is not yet so large: Headspace claims that nearly 30 million people around the world use their services, and Calm cites a figure of 25 million users.

    How does the market for meditation applications live?

    Despite the fact that meditation applications are not so widespread among users, this does not prevent them from actively capturing the market of audio content. Services for meditation and awareness raising are gaining popularity over the past few years, but in 2017 and 2018 this growth has accelerated. In 2017, Calm entered Apple's list of the best apps of the year, and attention to mental health became one of the trends of the year according to the company.

    According to Apptopia, the number of downloads of the 10 most popular self-care applications increased by 36% compared to the same period last year, and the income by 40%. Applications can popularize meditation and make it a part of people's daily lives. In total, according to the estimates of the American organization National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 8% of adults (18 million people) practice meditation .

    Most meditation applications are a collection of audio instructions for a specific situation and time. Some services can create recommendations based on the user's emotions and well-being. Therefore, the primary model of monetization of meditation applications is a premium subscription. It works because users are willing to pay for: 1) selection of content for specific needs and 2) a convenient service that does not require them to independently search for audio.

    What do podcast apps make?

    In contrast to meditation applications, the podcast platform is practically not involved in content curation and in facilitating the task of finding a suitable podcast for the situation / mood. Of course, podcasts can be grouped by subject, but the platform will not offer a release that suits your mood or well-being.

    This is primarily due to the fact that services for listening to podcasts for the most part act as aggregators of content, which is created by independent authors. Due to this approach, on the one hand, there are more audio recordings on the platform, on the other hand, it is almost impossible to manage them at the level accessible to meditation applications.

    In this situation, both authors and the platforms themselves are trying to make money on audio content. Podcasters often include native advertisements in their editions or accept voluntary donations from fans. Platforms attract advertisers and experiment with subscription models. For example, for a monthly fee, provide users with early access to releases of their favorite podcasts, bonus materials and the lack of advertising in the application itself.

    Photo by Kertojan ääni CC

    However, so far there are few people who want to get such access, and generally pay monthly for podcasts. This is also due to the fact that students may not associate the platform with "its content", and are ready to support individual podcasters, but not an aggregator application.

    What happens to the audio industry in Russia

    Users of audio applications in Russia are not as well studied as abroad. For our market, we have not yet conducted large-scale studies on the number of listeners to podcasts and audio meditations, therefore it is difficult to estimate the exact volume of the industry.

    They began to write actively about applications for meditation and awareness in Russian from 2015–2016 [ , Poster , Meduza ]. However, despite the growing popularity, application developers do not support the trend of increasing the “language accessibility” of audio meditation for Russians. Among the popular applications, lessons in Russian can be found, perhaps, only in Insight Timer .

    Podcasts in Russia are much more common and well known. The main models for audio monetization in Russia, as well as in the West, are advertising and donations. Advertisers are now working with the largest and oldest of the programs. In addition, Russian podcasters sell their other services and courses or arrange paid participation in the air to guests.

    As for the paid subscription model, it is implemented on its platform, for example, by Arzamas: some of the materials in the application are available for free, and the subscription opens up unique content for users. However, in this case, we still do not deal with the platform-aggregator of third-party content, but with supervised content provided by the site itself.

    By the way, “VKontakte” plans to launch its service for placing podcasts by the end of 2018 . The company does not yet tell about the earnings model, but it is known that it will differ from the existing monetization of audio recordings in the social network. Perhaps the domestic market will become the launching pad where platforms for podcasts will still be able to launch the “audio-Netflix” format.

    What else do we have on the topic:

    Our microformat - Telemania channel "Audiomania"

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