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How podcasts are reaching larger audiences by targeting non-English listeners

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February 8, 2022

I talk a lot about podcasts here, because, well, I’m really interested in how this medium has been growing in recent years and how it will continue to expand.

Podcasts are now a part of the digital publishing backbone and they’ll only continue to get bigger. One way to accomplish this is by what many publishers are doing now now—producing more original non-English podcasts and even more translations of English podcasts.

Via Digiday:

For bilingual people and international listeners, expect more podcasts coming your way from U.S.-based publishers and audio platforms this year. Companies like Vice Media Group, iHeartMedia and Tinkercast are ramping up podcast production in languages other than English, as they catch on to the opportunity to grow their global listener bases…

In order to capitalize on the potential to capture a larger international audience, publishers and audio platforms have to adapt their podcasts into languages beyond English—and they are taking a variety of different approaches, from translation to duo-language production. They’re also investing in podcasts produced specifically for non-English-language listeners.

The Washington Post hopped on this discovery early, they’ve had their Spanish-language news podcast called “El Washington Post” for a couple of years now and its popularity continues to rise.

Vice is another big company taking advantage of an international listenership. Their efforts are geared specifically towards developing original podcasts for non-English-language listeners.

The first approach is developing original podcasts in languages other than English. Vice has created podcasts in Japanese, Dutch, Hindi and Spanish, among other languages…The second approach by Vice’s audio team is creating spin-off series from popular podcast shows for different regions and languages…The third approach is Vice’s bilingual efforts, or what Osborn called “duo-language” podcasts. Rather than direct translation — which she believes doesn’t work as well with the documentary-style podcasts Vice is known for — a project is developed in two languages simultaneously by two teams working together.

These three ideas are sure to be a lot of work—but the payoff is also sure to be great, which could be said for any initiative that expands your reach, makes it more accessible and targets a global audience just like this.

The U.S. is currently the largest market for podcast audiences, but with China and Brazil just behind, it would be interesting to see how this demographic switches in the coming years.

And, as they usually do, the strategies from both blogging and podcasting can often go hand in hand.

It would be interesting to see how many blogs—specifically those at large, international firms—have publications in various languages. You could theoretically have two blogs and publish the same content, just translated into another language.

King & Wood Mallesons is one firm I can think of off the top of my head that does this. They regularly publish posts in both English and Chinese on their blog, China Law Insight. They even have separate feeds for the two different languages.

As always, especially if you have an international clientele, it’s worth considering if you’re hitting your target audience to the best of your ability.

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