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Podcasts Surge in Popularity as One in Five Chinese Internet Users Tune In, Report Reveals

Podcasts have experienced a significant surge in popularity in China, with one in five internet users tuning in last year, according to a recently published report.

The once niche sector has gained traction in 2023, with over 220 million of the country's nearly 1.1 billion internet users engaging with podcasts hosted by Ximalaya across 31 different genres.

The research conducted by the Chinese podcast service provider highlights that the audience for podcasts primarily consists of young Chinese professionals residing in higher-tier cities. The age group between 24 and 40 years represents over 60% of podcast listeners in China, while individuals from tier-one and tier-two cities account for more than 65% of the total audience.

Interestingly, Chinese consumers are increasingly willing to pay for premium podcast content, with more than half of them subscribing to such offerings. Ximalaya's research reveals that last year, over 22,000 podcast hosts collectively earned 70 million yuan (US$9.8 million) on the platform.

The popularity of Chinese podcasts has also attracted advertising from global brands, including Coca-Cola and Cadillac, providing an additional revenue stream for the industry. Market consultancy iResearch's separate report highlights that young professionals have played a crucial role in securing these advertising partnerships.

When it comes to podcast preferences, Chinese users primarily listen during their daily commutes. The most popular genres on the Ximalaya platform include health and lifestyle, Chinese history, global politics, frontier technology, business and entertainment, as well as fantasy and thriller stories.

The unique podcast preferences in China can be attributed, in part, to the country's strict censorship of online content. Genres such as general news and politics, which are popular among podcast listeners in Western countries, are noticeably absent from the Chinese podcast landscape. Ethan Cramer-Flood, a researcher at market consultancy Insider Intelligence, explains that this is due to the strict censorship regime in China, where controversial topics are heavily regulated.

Despite the stringent content regulations, the podcast industry in China continues to thrive. In 2023, Ximalaya's platform hosted 5.2 million more podcast episodes compared to the previous year. This growth can be attributed, in part, to the integration of generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools by Ximalaya. These AI-powered audio tools enhance efficiency and aid in content creation, further propelling the podcast industry forward.

  • One in five internet users in China listened to a podcast last year.

  • Over 220 million Chinese internet users engaged with podcasts hosted by Ximalaya.

  • Young professionals in higher-tier cities make up the majority of podcast listeners.

Source: SCMP

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