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Authenticity is at the heart of the video podcast

Cover image for Authenticity is at the heart of the video podcast

Photo: Jonathan Velasquez

Photo of Ben Woods
by Ben Woods

Video and audio platforms have been equally aggressive when treading upon each others’ turf. The platform flexibility of smartphones and smart TVs has created the opportunity for entertainment companies to extend audience engagement outside their core areas of expertise. Such is the case that specialising in one route to market now appears riskier than having a presence across many. Audiences expect their favourite entertainment brands to be visible and accessible, regardless of how they choose to consume.

Simulcasting the news

Sky News provides a recent example of how fluid the boundaries between video and audio have become. Earlier this month (May 24, 2023), the British current affairs broadcaster announced a partnership with the livestreaming audio service TuneIn. Sky News already had a considerable presence in audio, spanning podcasts and news services for commercial radio stations and smart speakers. The TuneIn deal will simulcast Sky News’ rolling TV news channel as a 24-hour audio feed. 

The tie-up gives Sky News the opportunity to build international audiences around a pre-existing content output by offering its coverage as a free audio service in the US, as well as the UK and Ireland. Still, while this deal makes strategic sense for Sky News, there is a risk that entertainment companies could fail to grasp the true opportunity of the multi-platform opportunity approach if they do not respect the nuances of why audiences are consuming on these different platforms in the first place.

Authentically speaking

The video podcast is a good example. Producers of audio podcasts can film the production process and package it up as a video podcast for video audiences, in the same way a news broadcaster could present a video interview as a video podcast for audio audiences. However, both would struggle without the understanding that video podcasts are a unique medium demanding a separate production approach. For Priya Sahathevan, the director of commercial and business development at Sky News, the appeal of video podcasts comes from the audience appetite for authenticity. In the same way podcasts feel like an intimate and honest conversation, video podcasts should amplify the fly-on-the-wall feel of watching that intimate exchange unfold. It is why successful video podcasts feel more akin with livestreaming content on Twitch than audio content on platforms like Audible.

Disrupting from within

For entertainment companies successfully navigating this multi-platform world, mastering a new medium like the video podcast should only be the start of the process. The next step should be a period of self-reflection. Should this appetite for authenticity be contained within video podcast output, or be used to revolutionise other areas of the output? Should the news broadcasters deviate from polished bulletins in a search of a more authentic feel if that is where the audience growth truly lies? Done successfully, and the multi-platform approach can provide the line of sight to disrupt from within, before being challenged by rivals. After all, the multi-platform approach is not just about going where audiences are, but understanding why they are there in the first place.

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