Recently we are seeing rise in OTT, audiobooks, and podcasts platforms. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the online content market segment seeing an unprecedented increase in their userbase. Online streaming has picked up traction in India and witnessing a growing market, with opportunities for domestic and foreign players.
Pocket FM is an audiobook application company with over 10K+ popular audiobooks in multiple languages by expert speakers for various audience groups. In an interview, Rohan Nayak, CEO and Cofounder, tells us about about the evolutionary nature of content, its market scenario in India, and more. Excerpts:
DQ: How is the market for audiobooks in India right now?
Rohan: India is now one of the fastest growing country in terms of audiobooks & podcasts. We believe audio storytelling will become a mainstream content format for entertainment & knowledge. We believe audio is at an inflection point and will witness exponential growth in the next couple of years. Listening and storytelling is already in our DNA – whether it is stories or people talking about their experiences. Lockdown and the ongoing pandemic veered many people to start consuming audio content from podcasts to audiobooks.
Audio is gradually becoming an expansive category spanning from self-help, informational/knowledge, conversational podcasts, fiction and much more. Indian consumers are now exploring audio, and there is massive appetite for content.
At this stage of category creation, there is a lot of opportunity for growth and learning for all the players. Storytelling is imbibed in our culture and roots, and we want to take that to the next level with unique formats and narratives.
Last 6 months have been phenomenal for us as we witnessed 5x growth and are now amongst the top OTT platforms in India with over 10 million downloads & 1.5 Billion minutes being streamed monthly on the platform. On an average, a user spends 110 minutes on the app daily. This is the first for any spoken audio content application in India. Top audio shows in India are on Pocket FM with over 50 million plays each. We are the leading audio platform in the country at the moment and growing 30% M-o-M.
DQ: With video more popular, how will audiobooks fit in, going ahead?
Rohan: Listening and storytelling is already in our DNA – whether it is stories or people talking about their experiences. Lockdown and the ongoing pandemic veered many people to start consuming audio content from podcasts to audiobooks. Today, audio streaming is not just a novel entertainment option for everyday situations such as during commuting or housework, but a great alternative to reduce our screen time and the visual overload.
It seemed natural to us that audio will be the next content frontier and a powerful medium to share stories & knowledge. Users can consume content while working, during their commutes or even during chores or daily walks and exercise routines. Audiobooks will help cultivate a binge-listening trend soon and pave way for new platforms and collaborations in this space.
Our own success and listening minutes records speak for the Indian audience’s growing appetite for audio content. We are recording 110 minutes of daily listening time per user; and have succeeded with many leading titles, which have garnered over 100 million plays till now on Pocket FM.
DQ: FM channels, etc., are also available over mobiles. How are you placed against such competition?
Rohan: It is same as watching your favorite shows not on television but as and when you want it, on video OTT platforms. It is similar to how video OTT and cable television co-exist today. Pocket FM aims to give users an expansive catalogue of content spanning from self-help, informational/knowledge, conversational podcasts, fiction and much more.
DQ: What are your plans for further development and expansion?
Rohan: We believe audio will witness exponential growth in the next couple of years. We are looking to aggressively expand into 5 new languages (Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada) in the next 3 months. Our aim is to cross 6 billion minutes being streamed per month and have more than 50 million+ total listeners by the end of 2021. This will help establish audio storytelling as a mainstream content format in India.
DQ: How are audiobooks creating a new medium for writers to experiment and find new readers?
Rohan: Audio is set to have mass adoption in India, and become a mainstream content format in the next few years. Audiobooks will transform and create a new category of content and user base in the same way how video and OTT became mainstream. We believe audio will significantly increase the reach of content written by new & aspiring writers and make new celebrity writers.
In-fact, we are seeing an increasing trend of audio-first content being written by our writer community. Currently, we have over 10k+ artists working exclusively with Pocket FM. Audiobooks will be a thriving space for many aspiring writers and voice over artists to build their own fan base and inspire millions of users through their art.