Our Crystal Ball Series With Libysn’s Rob Walch


Rob Walch is the Vice President for Podcaster Relations at Libsyn. He’s also an editorial board member for The Podcast Business Journal, and, as co-host of The Feed, Walch provides the industry with the most reliable stats in the space. Here’s what Rob thinks about 2019 and the year ahead.

PBJ: What kind of year was it for podcasting in 2019?
Rob Walch: A ubiquitous year. As in for 2019 you could finally say “listen to my podcast anywhere you listen to audio”. Not just places specific to podcasting but pretty much every where there is audio available for consumption there is now podcasts available too. That was really important for the space as more and more people are stumbling upon podcasts who might not even know what a podcast is.

PBJ: The best thing that happened in podcasting in 2019 was…
Rob Walch: IAB V2 certifications rolling out via multiple providers finally giving Ad buyers more confidence in the numbers they are being presented.

PBJ: Three biggest surprises of 2019 were…
Rob Walch: 1. Valuations – as in the amounts paid for or invested in companies that had no business model and/or were running out of money.

  1. Females – New Podcasters in Q2 of 2019 were made up of over 40% Females up significantly from previous years.
  2. Home Screen – Apple moving the Apple Podcasts app to the main home screen for all new iOS devices with iOS 13

PBJ: Any disappointments?
Rob Walch: That there is still not a native podcast App on Android. That will remain the biggest disappointment in podcasting each year until it finally happens. Then it will be the biggest surprise of that year. But for 2019 – sadly the lack of a native Podcast App on Android has to be the biggest disappointment.

PBJ: Three breakout podcasters were…
Rob Walch:
Nicaila Matthew Okome – Side Hustle Pro podcast
Whitney Cummings – Good For You podcast
Fearne Cotton – Happy Place podcast

PBJ: Anyone crash and burn that thought they would be big?
Rob Walch: You mean other than Luminary? I think we can leave it there.

PBJ: At the end of 2020 how will Spotify Compare to Apple in terms of user base?
Rob Walch: At the end of 2019 – Spotify had moved up to 13.1% of podcast consumption compared to Apples’s 58% market share – across all shows hosted on Libsyn. Spotify is and will remain a solid number 2 in podcast listening in 2020. However it will still be smaller than Apple overall. Given the native nature of Apples podcasts app – that is not something anyone is going to be able to overcome in the foreseeable future. By the end of 2020 I would expect to see Spotify in the 15% to 18% market share range. This is important to note that gain will not be at the lose of raw listeners on Apple’s side – it will be by growing new listeners – and that is good for all over all.

PBJ: Will the big advertising predictions come true over the next few years?
Rob Walch: Advertising will continue to grow steadily. There is not going to be that hockey stick moment. However 4 to 5 years from now podcast advertising will be measurably larger than it was in 2019.

PBJ: Will the independent podcaster ever be able to make a living podcasting?
Rob Walch: Indie podcasters are and have been making a living podcasting – just not all or most of them – nor will all or most of them ever make a living from Podcasting. Just like most actors do not make a living from acting. But there is nothing holding back an indie podcaster from getting an audience as large as any other podcast. Joe Rogan is an indie podcaster and he seems to be doing pretty well on his own. Same for Sam Harris, Dan Carlin, Mike Rowe and many of the other indie podcasts out there in the top tier of podcasting.

PBJ: Make three predictions for 2020.
Rob Walch: 1. Privacy – The hype of attribution in podcasting will meet the cold hard reality of privacy, tech limitations and CCPA. There are people promising things in the attribution space for podcasting that clearly have no idea on how podcasting works or just do not care about the ethical implications of what they are doing. This will come to a head in 2020 as podcasters learn that ethically it is wrong to track listeners that have no option to opt in and the damage to the trust between them and their listeners is not worth going down that dark path.

  1. Consolidation – More acquisitions of smaller podcasting companies.
  2. Openness – RSS feeds will remain the dominate way podcasts are delivered and it will remain an open format for all.

You can reach out to Rob by e-mail at rob@libsyn.com
You can listen to The Feed HERE.

More from our series with:
Steve Stewart
Evo Terra
Matty Staudt
Robin Kinnie
Steve Goldstein
Emily Prokop
Rob Greenlee
Jessica Kupferman
Traci Long DeForge
Daniel J. Lews
Mark Asquith
Mathew Passy
Jack Rhysider
Matt Cundill
Jay Soderberg
Bruce Wawrzyniak
Kelli Hurley
Troy Price
Erica Mandy