ABC outlines five-year-plan to increase podcast investment

Company to move away from broadcast and into digital and on-demand

The Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) is introducing a new digital-first focus which includes moving away from traditional broadcasting and into podcasts and on-demand radio programmes, according to its new five-year plan announced this morning.

The state broadcaster plans to adapt to changing technology and audience demographics by investing primarily into its digital products - ABC News, ABC iview, and ABC Listen.

While ABC will continue to produce broadcast radio programmes for its existing radio listeners, the company plans to shift its resources to focus on creating and producing digital programmes, bringing them to ABC-owned platforms as well as new formats like social media and other third-party platforms that appeal to younger audiences.

“By 2028, the ABC will serve more Australians on the platform of their choice with made-for-digital content and journalism on ABC News, ABC iview, ABC Listen and on major third-party platforms,” said ABC managing director David Anderson. “As Australia changes, so must the ABC…This means changing to meet the needs of our audiences wherever they live. We will continue to serve all Australians, contribute to our national identity and remain an essential part of daily life.”

The five-year-plan also highlighted that the use of artificial intelligence will be essential to this digital-first approach, along with any other new and relevant technologies that can help the platform reach Australian audiences. ABC also plans to accelerate the replacement of its current equipment to include new technologies such as virtual production studios.

More investment will also go into making discovery easier for younger audiences who don’t traditionally use broadcast services and aren’t aware of the content that ABC has to offer. This includes external promotion, cross-platform promotion, strong branding, better metadata and more personalisation. 

Earlier this year, the BBC faced a similar challenge in terms of discovery for podcast content available on BBC Sounds. According to the Jigsaw March 2023 Quantitative Research Report on BBC online services, commissioned by Ofcom, many participants were using third-party platforms to listen to BBC programmes and were unaware that they were consuming BBC content or the extent of programming available through the BBC Sounds app.

Ofcom later introduced a new modernised BBC operating licence, which came into effect at the start of April this year, requiring the public broadcasting service to report how its approach to discoverability allows audiences to access a broad range of content, and how it balances its editorial curation and personalisation across BBC iPlayer and Sounds.

Other public broadcasters, meanwhile, have recently been forced to cut costs, such as nonprofit media organisation NPR, which had to cancel four of its original podcasts and lay-off 10% of its workforce in an attempt to bounce back from facing $30 million in operating budget loss in February this year.

Although the platform had to cut costs mostly from its podcasting budget, it decided not to cancel any of NPR’s radio programmes or on-demand radio shows as they were considered “essential” to keep moving forward.