The kids industry has been investing in audio content in a major way this year. Big players including Marvel and National Geographic have lined up new podcasts, and the market is quickly filling up with competitors. But with so many voices vying to be heard, the challenge for kids content creators has evolved from making kids podcasts to making sure the content stands out.
The global podcasting market was valued at US$9.28 billion in 2019 and is expected to climb by 27% by 2027, according to Grand View Research. A 2017 survey from Kids Listen found that of active podcast listeners, 80% tune in to an episode more than once, with 20% of those kids tuning in more than 10 times.
Today, Kidscreen is closing out its Podcasting 101 series that answers burning questions about doing business in the space, such as what does an audio-first content strategy look like?, Can you build a brand through audio? And today’s query: What are platforms doing to stand out?
As podcasts soar, so too do the platforms that offer them. In comes Pinna, the kid-focused audio platform that’s currently working to break through the clutter on a strategy of volume, original content and innovations, says CEO Maggie McGuire.
The two-year-old platform is about to launch its 41st and 42nd original podcast in the coming months, says McGuire. Its most recent original, Dream Breachers (10 x 30 minutes), is about a tween who realizes he can move between the world of dreams and reality. Produced by Pinna and launched in October, Dream Beachers is resonating with tweens who are hungry for fantasy and adventure content.
Pinna has seen a surge in listeners during this year’s pandemic, with its three-to-12 audience tuning in 64 minutes a day on average, up from 21 minutes when it launched, says McGuire, adding that original content is a big driver of this growth, with 50% of listeners tuning in for Pinna’s in-house shows.
To ensure high-quality original content, the company kid-tests all new IPs before giving a greenlight. The platform starts by producing a pilot, which is checked with kids to make sure the educational takeaways land, and the entertainment brings the laughs.
The next step is to build in interactivity. Podcasts like A to Z Mysteries Clue Club do this by breaking the fourth wall, and asking kids to help solve a mystery. Beyond call-and-response, the series also drops audio cues at specific moments to signal that the characters have discovered a clue, so kids can participate in the story.
Pinna has also previously experimented with content like audio playlists that mix classic stories with new content to widen kids’ interests.
Comedy, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy and adventure are particularly popular genres, and Pinna is looking to acquire and produce more of those formats, says McGuire.
There are also a few proven categories that Pinna is investing in, such as movement-focused and fandom podcasts. The platform recently launched Minecraft and Pokémon-themed shows to connect with passionate and content-hungry fans, and the positive response is motivating the company to investigate more of these kinds of series.
Pinna is also expanding its non-fiction catalogue and looking to push into scarier content, kicking things off with Wonkybot’s Origins Unknown (10 x 17 minutes). This show plays to kids nine and up, and follows four teens and their families who face off against spooky happenings and personal losses in a small town.
Kids were starting to listen to audio content in a big way before COVID-19, but the numbers have jumped recently, and are pegged to keep growing in the future.
“We were worried the pandemic might have a negative impact on audio consumption with kids at home,” says McGuire. “But it’s a good time for podcasts, as families and educators seek more [of a] balance between screen and screen-free content.”