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From X to Instagram, the line between social video and podcasts is blurring

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Photo of Rutger Rosenborg
by Rutger Rosenborg

As the podcast industry wakes up to the fact that video podcasts are growing –– and fast –– MIDiA’s 2024-2030 podcast forecasts confirm the source of much of that growth: YouTube. YouTube video market share is already the largest among all platforms where podcasts are available, having shot up from 9.7% in 2019 to 28.6% in 2023. 

Spotify has taken note, onboarding more than 250,000 video podcasts as of late June 2024 in order to compete. While the video format itself is key to the podcast growth that YouTube is seeing, the connection between video and discovery through social media is important as well. 

MIDiA consumer surveys show that 47% of Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube Shorts users watch podcasts through short clips, 27% of consumers engage with podcasts by watching video clips on social media, and 42% of consumers watch video podcasts on YouTube (source: MIDiA Q1 2024 and Q4 2023 Consumer Surveys). Consequently, it is no surprise that companies are increasingly seeing the crossover value of video podcasts and social media, which will continue to blur the lines between spoken audio and spoken video formats.

As X influence wanes, Elon Musk signs video podcasters 

Khloe Kardashian may not be known as a podcaster, but that is not stopping Elon Musk from betting on Kardashian fame — and video podcast growth — in an effort to keep X, formerly known as Twitter, relevant. The Kardashian’s podcast for X, which will consist of 26 episodes, is set to showcase that trademark Kardashian humor, which is no surprise considering the popularity of comedy as a podcast topic

X’s Kardashian bet is part of a larger strategy to lean into social video, but it is ultimately difficult to define where one social video format ends and another begins. The platform already has a weekly WWE video series called Speed in addition to a reality sports docuseries called The Offseason. If  both of those programs were to be delivered via RSS as audio-only, they would likely be called podcasts as well. For X, it really does not matter what the format is called, as long as it keeps users engaged. Ultimately, this means streaming platforms not only compete for listeners and viewers with other streaming platforms, but with social platforms as well. 

From Instagram Live to a celebrity sports podcast

During the pandemic, star soccer player Megan Rapinoe and star basketball player Sue Bird started an Instagram Live stream called A Touch More Live, where they offered their takes on sports news. In the intervening years, the duo has been working on translating the livestream series into a podcast. With Vox Media as their partner, Rapinoe and Bird’s A Touch More production company will “relaunch and expand their sports and pop culture” livestream into a full-fledged podcast with more hot takes and celebrity guests, according to Variety

Vox already has a number of popular podcasts in its repertoire, so the choice to bring in a podcast that previously existed as an Instagram livestream says something about the company’s belief in the duo’s ability to make engaging content –– not just for ears but for eyes (and thumbs) as well. It also speaks to the potential for social media to act as a cheap testing ground for video podcast concepts, and space to build foundational audiences, before companies put full resources behind a fully fleshed-out, produced version.

Ultimately, the porous borders between social video and podcasts comes down to one thing: What will capture the most attention? Podcasts are growing, but they are growing in large part because social video is growing. In order to maintain that growth, the format must evolve, whether that means bringing social video to the podcasts or podcasts to social video.

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