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The Emergence of Native Podcasts in Journalism: Editorial Strategies and Business Opportunities in Latin America

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This article analyses the state of the art of podcasting in the new digital landscape as well as the structures, editorial strategies, and business models of native podcasts launched in Latin America over the last few years. To this end, a multiple case study has been made to examine the way new digital outlets are using audio content. This qualitative research is made up of a variety of approaches, such as interviews, online surveys of podcasters, as well as the collection and analysis of secondary data. A specific aim of this comparative study was to include a sample of podcasts produced by thirteen emerging media platforms from eight countries registered in the directory of digital natives conducted by SembraMedia (https://www.sembramedia.org). This is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the diversity and quality of Spanish language content by helping digital media entrepreneurs become more sustainable and successful. Results of this exploratory study reveal that native podcasting in Spanish is still expanding and that where the new media are small in scale, they are more oriented to the full exploitation of the narrative and innovative possibilities of this audio format and do not have responding to their target audiences’ needs as their main priority. These new media are finding different ways to become monetised (mainly content production for clients, sponsored content, sponsorship, consulting services, and advertising) and to make a profit.
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Media and Communication (ISSN: 2183–2439)
2020, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 159–170
DOI: 10.17645/mac.v8i2.2699
Article
The Emergence of Native Podcasts in Journalism: Editorial Strategies and
Business Opportunities in Latin America
José Luis Rojas-Torrijos 1,*, Francisco Javier Caro-González 2and José Antonio González-Alba 3
1Department of Journalism II, University of Seville, 41092 Seville, Spain; E-Mail: jlrojas@us.es
2Department of Business Administration and Marketing, University of Seville, 41092 Seville, Spain; E-Mail: fjcaro@us.es
3University of Cádiz, 11000 Cádiz, Spain; E-Mail: joseantonio@sembramedia.org
* Corresponding author
Submitted: 10 December 2019 | Accepted: 29 January 2020 | Published: 16 April 2020
Abstract
This article analyses the state of the art of podcasting in the new digital landscape as well as the structures, editorial
strategies, and business models of native podcasts launched in Latin America over the last few years. To this end, a
multiple case study has been made to examine the way new digital outlets are using audio content. This qualitative re-
search is made up of a variety of approaches, such as interviews, online surveys of podcasters, as well as the collection
and analysis of secondary data. A specific aim of this comparative study was to include a sample of podcasts produced
by thirteen emerging media platforms from eight countries registered in the directory of digital natives conducted by
SembraMedia (https://www.sembramedia.org). This is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the diversity and
quality of Spanish language content by helping digital media entrepreneurs become more sustainable and successful.
Results of this exploratory study reveal that native podcasting in Spanish is still expanding and that where the new me-
dia are small in scale, they are more oriented to the full exploitation of the narrative and innovative possibilities of this
audio format and do not have responding to their target audiences’ needs as their main priority. These new media are
finding different ways to become monetised (mainly content production for clients, sponsored content, sponsorship, con-
sulting services, and advertising) and to make a profit.
Keywords
business models; digital native news media; entrepreneurial journalism; online journalism; podcasting
Issue
This article is part of the issue “Digital Native News Media: Trends and Challenges” edited by Ramón Salaverría (University
of Navarra, Spain).
© 2020 by the authors; licensee Cogitatio (Lisbon, Portugal). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribu-
tion 4.0 International License (CC BY).
1. Introduction
In the era of multi-platform distribution, fragmented
audiences, and the spread of content through social
media, digitalization has bolstered new forms of doing
journalism which aim to deliver news to audiences as
fast and efficiently as possible. The so-called “new me-
dia” (Cabrera, Codina, & Salaverría, 2019) have not only
been able to adapt themselves to the new scenario but
also to be seen as an alternative to traditional news
outlets (Harlow & Salaverría, 2016). These digital jour-
nalistic platforms, also known as “digital native media”
(Salaverría & Negredo, 2013, p. 175), provide easier ac-
cess from any device globally, and produce instant, in-
teractive, and multimedia content clearly oriented to the
users’ information needs (Pavlik, 2001, p. XI).
But media convergence—a process to reduce the
cost of information production and to improve the acces-
sibility and popularity of digital platforms (Jenkins, Ford,
& Green, 2015; Quinn, 2006)—is what truly defined the
notion of the active audiences within today’s media in-
dustries and blurred the boundaries between production
Media and Communication, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 159–170 159
and consumption of news (Schanke & Ytreberg, 2009).
Likewise, the growing presence of prosumers in the me-
dia flow and the emergence of independent media op-
erators have compelled legacy media to search for new
journalistic strategies, formats, and narratives similar to
those being developed by the new media.
In this context, podcasts have gained popularity
among users and have aroused increasing interest within
media outlets as news consumption on mobile devices
has grown, and listening to linear radio has been dis-
rupted by the rise of on-demand technology (Newman,
2018a). In fact, podcasting represents a “rupture of the
traditional concepts of transmission-reception and syn-
chrony” (Salgado, 2010, p. 136) in favour of portability,
interaction, and the freedom to listen to any content.
Producing podcasts, as encapsulated audio files for
download to be played on any device at any time, im-
plies the involvement of an active audience who feels
empathy with specific content and even “a higher level
of complicity between the producer and the listener”
(González-Alba, 2018). So, as Moreno-Cazalla (2017,
p. 337) points out, changes in reception processes, the
new time-space paradigm, and the content customisa-
tion are the key elements that explain the boom in
podcasting. The rise of personal narratives, “intrinsically
linked to the intimate nature of the audio medium”
(Lindgren, 2016, p. 24), is one of journalistic storytelling’s
newest forms of innovation in to reach new audiences.
The evolution of this audio format, whose roots date
back to 2001 (Sellas, 2011, p. 11) and which came of
age in 2004, has been relentless. After an initial stage
where podcasts were more radiogenic (Berry, 2006) and
were mainly produced by amateurs (McClung & Johnson,
2010), these formats became “a distinct medium” (Berry,
2016, p. 1) or “a digital mass medium” (Bonini, 2015,
p. 23) considering the manner in which they are pro-
duced and consumed. Since then, podcasts have quietly
grown year by year, both in terms of producers and listen-
ers: “It was estimated that in 2013 there were well over
250,000 unique podcasts in more than 100 languages
available online” (Bottomley, 2015).
There are two main reasons for this development:
the increasing interest in the podcast market by online
platforms and tech giants such as Apple, Spotify, and
Google, which “have begun making major investments
in the medium” (Sullivan, 2019, p. 9); and the exponen-
tial growth in the number of mobile devices among the
population. According to the Global Digital Report 2019
(We Are Social & Hootsuite, 2019), the amount of smart-
phone users increases by 2% per year and the almost
4,000 million active mobile users in the world already
spend half of their time on these small screens search-
ing for information on the Internet. This fact is even
clearer in the youngest age groups who definitely seem
to have abandoned analogue radio (Pedrero, Barrios, &
Medina, 2019).
In this new scenario, radio operators have been
forced to assume that news consumption habits have
changed forever and, consequently, they have had to in-
vest more in digital audio in order to rethink their content
production and delivery routines. In this sense, the in-
creasing interest in podcasting turns out to be “like a sec-
ond life” for radio programmes in digital environments
(Sánchez, 2017, p. 158).
Different studies reflect this trend in the media in-
dustry. The Digital News Report 2018 published by the
Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism indicates
that more than a third of people interviewed had lis-
tened to a news-related podcast at least monthly al-
though there was significant national variation. While in
some Asia territories, podcasts are listened to by more
than 55% of people, this audio format seems to be “least
accessed in European countries with a strong audio tra-
dition” such as the United Kingdom or the Netherlands,
both with only 18% of listeners (Newman, 2018b).
This annual report also underlines how media out-
lets are employing this format as a way to directly con-
nect with younger audiences, especially those under 35.
This age group marks a clear division between the gen-
eration who prefers to consume podcasts and older lis-
teners who “are twice as likely to consume traditional ra-
dio news” (Newman, 2019b). Some legacy media try to
bridge the gap between “the new and the old” audiences
by maintaining a balance in their content production
and by working across all digital platforms (Lindeberg,
2019, p. 23).
Meanwhile, traditional journalistic brands are mak-
ing a great effort to adapt themselves to the digital
landscape and there has been a meteoric rise of new
digital media or native cyber media (Salaverría, 2019).
These projects stand out for having a diverse number
of channels, formats, narratives, business models, and
relationships with users (Toural & López, 2019). Some
of these digital-native outlets chose podcasts as their
sole (or main) production platform, which suggest that
some quality attributes and journalistic consumption
patterns are quite different to the legacy media produc-
tion (Arrese & Kaufmann, 2016).
Among those quality attributes linked to podcasts
is personal branding for journalists. Previous research
studies have highlighted the rise in native podcasts pro-
duced by experienced professionals who are making
good use of this format to boost their personal brands, as
happened to blogs some years ago (Demopoulos, 2006,
p. 131). In this regard, López-Meri and Casero (2017) con-
sider the creation of a personal brand as an ongoing pro-
cess in which journalists take advantage of digital plat-
forms, mainly social media networks, to show who they
are, how they work, to set themselves apart from com-
petitors, and be accepted by users.
Thus, podcasts have become a suitable format for
journalists to create and highlight their personal brand
and may also serve as a means to target specific audi-
ences, to find a niche, or to engage in “hyper specialised”
journalism (Rojas-Torrijos, 2018). In an era of increas-
ing fragmentation of public attention across digital plat-
Media and Communication, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 159–170 160
forms (Masip, Ruiz-Caballero, & Suau, 2019; Webster &
Ksiazek, 2012), news podcasts may respond to specific in-
formation needs of audience segments who are not be-
ing properly informed by the generalist media.
Some studies have examined the patterns and moti-
vations of podcast users and indicate two trends. On the
one hand, audiences, even young people, are listening
to podcasts that entertain and inform (Newman, 2019b,
p. 62). This may explain why publishers are making invest-
ments in news podcasts, popularised in 2017 following
the success of The Daily by The New York Times (Verdier,
2018). News podcasts have been defined as “regular-
frequency multi-platform and on-demand podcasts pro-
duced by big media outlets to provide daily coverage of
general interest news in a short format that lasts about
3–25 minutes” (Pérez & Lus, 2019, p. 326) and represent
an opportunity for those companies to develop innova-
tive storytelling techniques, build audience habits, and
consolidate their brands.
On the other hand, one of the main motivations of
using podcasts instead of linear radio includes develop-
ing audience interest into specific topics. Apart from sug-
gesting that entertainment is the major motivation to
choose the digital audio (McClung & Johnson, 2010) and
that music is the most consumed type of media content
(Edison Research, 2019), podcasts are appealing to users
because they are able to attend to the personal inter-
ests of each user (Newman, 2019b), such as leisure, food,
health, technology, or sports (Newman, 2018b). As a con-
sequence, the range of podcasts is as wide as it is di-
verse, which explains the rapid development of this for-
mat (Sellas, 2011, p. 28).
Considering these motivations, those native news
podcasts that are focused on specific topics or niche
products seek competitive advantage by reaching and
taking care of target audiences and then by drawing the
attention of advertisers or clients to become profitable.
For entrepreneurs and independent podcasts pro-
ducers, the monetization of the news product is essen-
tial. However, there are still too many open questions
around the implementation and the public acceptance
of payment models in the podcast industry. While this
model is well established in countries that have a long
tradition in podcasting such as the United States or the
United Kingdom (Newman & Gallo, 2019; Sellas, 2011),
in other markets such as Spain this journalistic product
probably needs more time. The number of podcasts that
are financially viable is still an exception in this country
(Rouco, 2019).
The production of quality content in podcasts, the po-
tential for niche journalism in this format, the opportuni-
ties for entrepreneurs, and the harmonisation of all this
with an adequate business model shapes an ongoing de-
bate on a sector that still is in its development stage. It
will, therefore, be necessary to address the study of con-
crete cases to analyse the viability and potential of native
podcasts in journalism.
2. The Study
Regarding this context, this article analyses the state
of the art of native news podcasts launched in Latin
America in recent years. In this research, we consider ‘na-
tive’ podcasts as those created solely for digital-only plat-
forms and promoted by entrepreneurs or independent
companies not associated with big media brands. Also,
following the abovementioned authors Bonini (2015)
and Berry (2016), we regard those news podcasts pro-
duced by audio-only or audio-first outlets as digital me-
dia themselves.
To this end, a multiple case study has been made to
examine the way audio content is being used by new digi-
tal outlets in Spanish speaking countries. Although these
markets still do not have the same level of development
as in Anglo-Saxon countries, Latin America emerges as
the area where the consumption of podcasts is grow-
ing faster. This is pointed out in the report published by
Voxnest in the firstquarter of 2019: Chile, Argentina, Peru,
and Mexico, in this order, are the four countries with the
highest predicted levels of podcast growth globally (Grey,
2019). This same report in 2018 highlighted a 13% year-
on-year increase in the production of digital audio in Latin
America and noted that Spanish language podcasts in are
improving in quality and becoming more professional and
diverse, thanks in part to the expansion of large platforms
such as Spotify into the area (Voxnest, 2018).
Specific purposes of this comparative study include
a sample of podcasts produced by thirteen emerging
media platforms from eight countries registered in the
directory of digital natives conducted by SembraMedia
(https://www.sembramedia.org). This is a nonprofit or-
ganization dedicated to increasing the diversity and qual-
ity of Spanish language content by helping digital media
entrepreneurs become more sustainable and successful.
Since its foundation in 2015, SembraMedia has mapped
the digital media ecosystem in Latin America, Spain, as
well as the Spanish speaking news outlets in the United
States, and has built a regional network made up of more
than 800 new media.
Latin America is still an outlying area in journal-
ism studies and, more specifically, in Anglo-Saxon aca-
demic journals, which have been criticised for the lack of
racial, national, and ethnic diversity within their editorial
boards, topics, and authors (Usher, 2019). Meanwhile,
the Spanish-speaking subcontinent emerges as a land of
opportunity for digital entrepreneurs who are playing an
increasingly important role in terms of innovation in jour-
nalism (SembraMedia, 2017, p. 6).
2.1. Hypothesis and Objectives
News native podcasts are still in an early phase of expan-
sion and experimentation in Latin America and are an
area of interest among entrepreneurs, who search for op-
portunities for profit within the media sector while the
number of direct competitors is still low.
Media and Communication, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 159–170 161
With this hypothesis in mind, the objectives of this
multiple case study are:
RO1: To understand and evaluate the relevance of the
creation and development of podcasts in the new me-
dia ecosystem and to explore the degree of journalis-
tic entrepreneurship reached by this audio platforms
in Spanish language;
RO2: To know the strategic planning approaches
adopted by the promoters of these emergent journal-
istic projects in connection with their business mis-
sions, their clients and competitors, as well as their
value propositions associated with certain contents;
RO3: To analyse the potential of podcasts to boost
journalists’ personal brands and to move towards
niche or hyper specialised journalism in the media
industry;
RO4: To examine the main motivations that led en-
trepreneurs to produce news and other journalistic
content in this audio format;
RO5: To know the major revenue sources of the
Spanish-language native news podcasts that have be-
come monetised and to explore their financial prof-
itability in both short and medium-term scenarios.
2.2. Methodology
We chose a qualitative case study design to respond
to the research objectives. A case study design is ap-
plicable for identifying emerging themes and patterns
as it enables the acquisition of rich and detailed data
(Eisenhardt, 1989; Eisenhardt & Graebner, 2007; Miles
& Huberman, 1994). Multiple cases are investigated to
provide more accurate, generalisable, and robust results
(Rowley, 2002; Yin, 2009) and provide a stronger founda-
tion on which to build theories (Yin, 2009).
We chose companies from the SembraMedia
database. This directory comprises a sum of 767 digi-
tal media (September 2019), although only 80 of them
provide any sort of audio format. Finally, we identified
which outlets used podcasts as their main or only plat-
form to produce and disseminate news, and obtained a
sample of 20 media. We contacted all of them, but only
13 responded to our requests (Table 1).
We truly believe that this sample is appropriate for
the goals of this exploratory research. Previous case
study research in Social Sciences accepts that the num-
ber of participants may range between a minimum of 4
and a maximum of 10 according to the degree of thor-
oughness in the exploration (Eisenhardt, 1989; Rowley,
2002). To better conduct an in-depth analysis and an ex-
tensive collection of data for any organisation it is even
advisable to take a limited number of cases (Yin, 2009).
Table 1. Native podcasts studied from SembraMedia database.
Name Country Economic Aim Length of Service Other platforms
Revista 070 Colombia Nonprofit >3 years Website
Coloquio Puerto Rico Nonprofit >3 years App, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,
Vimeo
Parque Podcast Argentina Profit 2–3 years Website, Facebook, Twitter
Las Raras Podcast Chile Nonprofit >3 years Website, Facebook, Twitter,
YouTube, Vimeo
Libertarias Dominican Republic Nonprofit <1 year Facebook, Radio online, Instagram
Wetoker Argentina Profit >3 years Website, Newsletter, Facebook,
Twitter, Instagram
Los Puentes Digitales Spain Profit >3 years Website, App, Facebook, Twitter,
YouTube, Vimeo, Patreon
Latitud 25 Paraguay Profit >3 years Website, TV, Facebook, Radio online,
Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo
Akorde Podcast Colombia Profit >3 years Website, Blog, Newsletter,
Facebook, Radio online, Twitter
Posta Argentina Profit >3 years Website, Facebook, Twitter,
Instagram
Grupo Naranja Media Colombia Profit >3 years Blog
Relato Nacional Chile Profit >3 years Website, Facebook, Twitter
UyCast Uruguay Profit 1–2 years Website, Facebook, Twitter, Blog,
Instagram
Source: SembraMedia (2019).
Media and Communication, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 159–170 162
As a matter of fact, case study samples do not ex-
actly represent a concrete universe of participants, so
that the results obtained will not show the validity of the
statistical representativeness and, consequently, should
not be extended as a general rule for an entire popula-
tion. This approach involves understanding the charac-
teristics of a phenomenon in its context in such a way
that the analytical findings are more widely applicable
(Hartley, 1994). Gummesson (2000) suggests that this
qualitative method seeks to comprehend processes, to
provide frameworks, and to identify driving forces rather
than to determine exact cause-and-effect correlations.
We interviewed the podcast providers from the
SembraMedia database. They were asked about their
business missions, their clients and competitors, their
value proposals associated with certain contents, and the
main reasons that they chose to use podcasts.
Likewise, they received an online survey by email,
later reinforced via telephone, Twitter, and Facebook.
The closed-ended questions were intended to learn
more about their business models, the monetisation of
the projects, and, more specifically, expenditure items
and revenue sources.
The information gathered from the answers in the in-
terviews and the survey was finally completed with the
lookup on the SembraMedia database and on the plat-
forms of each project.
The fieldwork was conducted in 2019, between
October and November. The qualitative information ob-
tained has been handled with the data analytics software
ATLAS.ti (version 8).
To develop a more accurate data analysis with
ATLAS.ti, all the questions were categorised and codi-
fied. The function “wordcruncher” was applied to ex-
plore each category/question so as to identify the most
commonly used terms and expressions in their replies.
Any relevant word or phrase was automatically codified
in a news process to compare the qualitative results.
The coding system was built by combining codes derived
from both theory and data analysis. The codes used in
this research are the ones identifies in Figure 1.
3. Results
The native news podcasts are still small in scale. None
of the cases studied has been promoted just by one per-
son. The average number of entrepreneurs is three peo-
ple per podcast, with 44% being women. Regarding the
staff, these projects have an average of 4.2 employees
and a significant percentage of women (50%).
This last percentage may imply that the new media
companies are making efforts to balance the participa-
tion of male and female reporters in the production of
news. This fact becomes especially relevant in journal-
ism, which is still a male-biased sector where women
usually have difficulty gaining positions of responsibil-
ity within the companies (Caro-González, García-Gordillo,
& Bezunartea, 2014; De Vuyst & Raeymaeckers, 2017;
Djerf-Pierre, 2007).
Besides, the presence of female journalists in native
podcasts is slightly higher than in the rest of the me-
dia entrepreneurships in Latin America, where only 40%
of the founding members are women (SembraMedia,
2017, p. 9).
3.1. The Description of the Organisations
First of all, the promoters of native podcasts were asked to
give a brief description of their organisations. To describe
a project is important to take into account the essential
elements for any entrepreneur. As a general rule, they
have to answer three questions: “What are we doing? For
whom? And How?” (Caro-González, 2007, pp. 92–93).
The first question may result in two possible out-
comes: the traditional product-oriented strategy, in
which they basically explain the format; and the market-
oriented approach, where they plan the project accord-
ing to news demands from certain audiences. 11 out of
the 13 studied media referred to the product—“creation,
production, and delivery of podcasts” (Akorde Podcast
interview)—while just 7 mentioned clients and their
needs: “We seek to educate through the stories” (Grupo
Naranja Media interview), or “to bridge the gap between
Narrave potenal
Personal Interest
MOTIVATIONS
Innovaon
Partners STR ATEGY
Know-How
COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
Audiences Engagement
Network
Producon
Audiences
Product-oriented
MISSION
Market-oriented
CLIENTS Podcasts for others
Nave podcast in Journalism
Adversers Creaon
Podcasters
COMPETITORS
Substutes
Differenaon Niche
Posioning
To create communies
Figure 1. Conceptual map of codes. Source: Author’s analysis.
Media and Communication, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 159–170 163
academic research and new forms of storytelling in jour-
nalism practice” (Revista 070 interview).
Concerning the ‘For whom’ question, 4 out of the
13 new media keep their clients in mind when they de-
scribe their projects, even profiling the different markets
in which they operate: listeners, advertisers, and third-
party production entities. UyCast, for instance, identifies
“other media or organisations and original production for
advertising companies” as clients (UyCast interview).
They also refer to basic intangible aspects such as
the importance of the culture and values of the organ-
isation. Just three of the projects underline that they
create content from a new and independent approach:
Alternative information about politics, culture, gender,
and news” (Latitud 25 interview) or “against algorithms”
(Wetoker interview).
Some of the promoters also include references to
some distinguishing features of their projects, such as
the geographical spread and the brand positioning: “We
are the first podcast network in the city of Cordoba,
Argentina” (Parque Podcast interview).
In general, these native podcasts are clearly more
product-oriented and do not have meeting the specific
news demands of their audiences as the main priority.
The people interviewed explain what they do but not for
whom they do it or why.
3.2. Clients
The second open question addressed to the promoters
was about their clients. 11 out the 13 cases mention their
audiences as clients, 4 refer to advertising companies,
and 5 specify other organisations for whom they pro-
duce podcasts.
The data they gather from their audiences are highly
uneven. Relato Nacional provides information on their
listeners by gender and age: “Gender: women 54%,
men 44%. Age: 36% between 28 and 34 years old, 22%
between 35 and 44, 21% between 23 and 27, 10%
between 45 and 59, 9% between 18 and 22” (Relato
Nacional interview). Nevertheless, other cases such as
Coloquio do not yet have any data because it is not pro-
vided by their hosting platform.
In general, these native podcasts target young listen-
ers, those aged up to 35. The highest level of detail in
the definition of the audience comes from Posta: “It is
gender-balanced, the core is between 25 and 35, mobile,
permanently connected, online buyer, pay subscriber,
niche consumer, willing to spend time on content they
are keen on” (Posta interview).
Meanwhile, other projects observe that their audi-
ences are being reshaped due to changes in the mar-
ket caused by the expansion of Spotify in Latin America:
“Since that arrival audiences have been growing, chang-
ing and becoming more diverse. This is why at this mo-
ment we need some more time to rethink our strategy
and redefine our target audience” (Wetoker interview).
Regarding the advertising market, the projects do
not provide enough information to better identify and
quantify their clients: “They are small brands that seek
to differentiate themselves” (Parque Podcats interview)
or “they match with our brand and audiences’ values”
(Posta interview). Five of these entrepreneurships state
they do not have any advertisers.
Moreover, these new media provide podcast pro-
duction services for organisations that want to take ad-
vantage of this format as part of their content strategy.
These clients, ranging from university departments and
NGO’s to private companies, were identified in 5 out of
13 cases in this study.
3.3. Competitors
The state of the competition is one of the key elements
to estimate the probability of success of any new media.
Likewise, it is a way todetermine the extent to which this
format commands the attention of entrepreneurs.
In this case study, despite the promoters’ percep-
tion that, in general, there is a growing interest in the
podcast format, promoters scarcely consider that they
have competitors. In several cases, when referring to
other podcast projects in their markets they state that
they are not actually competitors but companies that
use the same format to reach different targets: “Those
projects found their own voice within this ecosystem so
there are no direct competitors for us” (Revista 070 inter-
view); “there is not any podcast with our same approach”
(Coloquio interview).
Some projects do mention other native podcasts al-
though they do not explain how they compete against
them in advertising resources and audiences. To name
a few: Radioambulante (Las Raras Podcast); Segmento
radial and Podcast Insumisas (Libertarias); Posta Fm
and Parque podcast (Wetoker); Convoy,Así como suena
and Dixo (Puentes Digitales); El Surtidor,GEN and AAM
(Latitud 25); Radio Ambulante and Las raras podcast,
Caseritas,Café con Nata and Con la ayuda de mis
Amikas (Relato Nacional); Polenta,Caramba and Dobcast
(UyCast). Besides, Posta and UyCast distinguish between
production competitors and creation competitors.
However, those projects that do not mention their
current competition have become aware of their poten-
tial competitors. More specifically, these projects see
how there is an increasing number of traditional media
outlets “that are breaking into the podcast market” and
“even in some cases are the same ones to whom we
supply with consultancy and other services” (Posta inter-
view). Grupo Naranja Media considers the podcasts “ma-
jor competitors are substitute products such as video or
blogs because many companies still do not know the au-
dio format well, or its advantages” (interview).
In other words and following Porter’s (1980) “broad
competitive scope” perspective, podcasting in Latin
America is still at an early stage of development but, de-
spite being a differentiated product in a sector with lit-
tle internal rivalry, the audio format may attract some
Media and Communication, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 159–170 164
competitive forces, such as new entrants and substitute
products, into the market.
3.4. New Digital Media Advantages
Once the podcast promoters identified their competitors,
they had to explain the characteristics that help their
value propositions attract the clients’ attention.
Here the answers varied widely. Some of the en-
trepreneurs regard the strategic alliances and the re-
lationships with clients as their main competitive ad-
vantage (Revista 070,Wetoker and Latitud 25 inter-
views), while others emphasised the specific nature of
the project and the niche marketing approach as their
strengths (Las Raras Podcast and Los Puentes Digitales
interviews). UyCast, for example, underlines “a better en-
gagement with female audiences,” while others refer to
their brand positioning (Posta interview).
They also mention the added value their podcast pro-
vides to certain clients: “It helps create a personal brand
and many stakeholders want to take part in this ecosys-
tem to gain value” (Wetoker interview).
Finally, some podcast promoters consider that their
strengths are internal aspects related to quality and pro-
duction processes (Relato Nacional interview). For in-
stance, Grupo Naranja Media refers to “the expertise in a
narrative that ensures an audience retention rate higher
than 70%, the understanding of the format and the har-
nessing its advantages to enhance our show” (interview).
Other competitive advantages come from their
own staff: the know-how and the professional experi-
ence (Los Puentes Digitales and UyCast interviews) or
their staff’s multidisciplinary education including jour-
nalism, technology, and marketing (Akorde Podcast and
Posta interviews).
3.5. Why Podcasting?
The next question intended to find out the reasons why
these entrepreneurs decided to produce podcast con-
tent. According to their answers, we identify some intrin-
sic and extrinsic motivations.
In the first answers, some promoters admit they
chose this audio format as a consequence of their per-
sonal interest (Revista 070 and Wetoker interviews),
while the second answers indicate external aspects that
acted as incentives for them, such as trends in the media
industry. Some entrepreneurs declare they produce pod-
casts because it’s a new format and it means innovation
(Coloquio and Las Raras Podcast interviews).
The most frequent motivation has to do with the nar-
rative potential of podcasts:
“To explain—without impoverishing—complex is-
sues” (Revista 070 interview);
“Versatility, production facilities, adaptability,
on-demand nature, gratuity and easy delivery”
(Parque Podcast interview);
“To connect feature written stories with the radio
world” (Relato Nacional interview);
“This format is the future for the new opportuni-
ties it offers” (Wetoker interview);
• “To reach depth in an entertaining manner in
a wide variety of topics” (Grupo Naranja Media
interview).
Last but not least, there are some motivations deter-
mined by the media market: Podcasts are used be-
cause the number of people who listen to this format is
growing and, consequently, is an opportunity for them
to reach wider audiences (Libertarias and Posta inter-
views) or to create communities and interact with clients
(Los Puentes Digitales and Latitud 25 interviews).
3.6. Business Models
Hereafter, the promoters of the new audio platforms
were asked about the relevance of certain revenue
sources and expenditure items. For this question, we em-
ployed a Likert-type scale to offer the respondents five
possible quantitative values to weight the importance
of income and expenses involved in their respective
projects. An average of each revenue source and expen-
diture item was calculated from the total sum of replies.
For instance, in the case of ‘sponsorship’ (Table 2),
the 13 podcasters gave the following values: 1, 2, 1, 2,
1, 3, 1, 5, 3, 1, 4, 4, 4. The resulting average is 2.46
and the sum of all revenues sources values is 30.49.
Consequently, the real importance of revenue sources is
at a rate of 8%.
These answers highlight which streams are key to suc-
cess in these projects.
Table 2. Revenue sources.
Revenue Source Importance (%)
Content production for clients 12%
Sponsored content 8%
Sponsorship 8%
Consulting services 8%
Advertising 8%
Subscriptions 7%
Foundations and grants 7%
Training services 6%
Donations 6%
Events 6%
Crowdfunding 5%
Profitable memberships 5%
Content syndication 4%
E-commerce 4%
Government funds 4%
Pay-per-use 3%
100%
Source: Author’s analysis.
Media and Communication, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 159–170 165
Remarkably, content production for clients, in gen-
eral, is the main revenue source in the cases studied
(Table 2). Six out of the 13 promoters regard this item
as their first priority. So, the monetisation of these pod-
casts is achieved by creating content for private compa-
nies or public organisations. The other major revenue
sources, in order of importance, are sponsored content,
sponsorships, consulting services, and advertising. It can
be noted that these new media might run into financial
difficulty if they were only able to rely on direct contri-
butions from the audiences (subscriptions, memberships
or crowdfunding). It is also noteworthy that these audio
platforms need to diversify their incomes to survive.
To supplement the results of the study, the pod-
casters interviewed were asked to indicate the impor-
tance of the different expenditure items in their organ-
isations. Table 3 shows that the largest item of expen-
diture is the staff and their salaries, ahead of financial
costs and the use of digital technologies (network servers
and software).
Table 3. Types of expenses.
Types of Expenses Importance (%)
Salaries 17%
Financial costs 15%
Network servers 14%
Software 12%
Others 12%
Electricity, water, and other supplies 11%
Office rental 11%
Depreciation of equipment 10%
100%
Source: Author’s analysis.
Finally, the ratio of revenue to expense leads us to
ask about the profitability of these projects. As shown
in Figure 2, the podcasters interviewed consider their
respective platforms as being either already prof-
In a year or
less (15%)
In 1–3 years
(54%)
It’s already
profitable
(31%)
Figure 2. In what period of time do you think your pod-
cast will become profitable? Source: Author’s analysis.
itable (31%), or likely to become a lucrative business in
the short- (15%) or medium-term (54%).
4. Discussion and Conclusions
The results of this case study confirm the abovemen-
tioned hypothesis: News native podcasts are still in an
early phase of expansion and experimentation in Latin
America, are a field of interest among entrepreneurs, are
small in scale, and they are searching for business oppor-
tunities, new relationships with audiences, and strategic
alliances with clients.
Moreover, the findings respond to our five research
objectives. First, to understand and explore the de-
gree of journalistic entrepreneurship reached by pod-
cast projects in Latin America (RO1), results show that
these news audio products provided by independent me-
dia outlets are in an early stage of development in the
subcontinent. In the case of podcasts taken from the
SembraMedia database (2019), 60% of the projects were
founded after 2014 and 92% were created after 2010.
Even so, the audio-only or audio-first news outlets only
represent a mere 10% in this directory.
Likewise, news podcasting generates interest from
journalistic entrepreneurs who search for opportunities
to profit from the media sector while the number of di-
rect competitors is still small. In this regard, findings also
provide a greater understanding of the strategic planning
approaches adopted by the promoters of these emer-
gent journalistic projects regarding their business mis-
sions, their clients, and competitors (RO2).
The promoters of these new media highlight that
these audio platforms are more oriented to the full ex-
ploitation of the narrative and innovative possibilities of
this audio format and do not have responding to their tar-
get audiences’ needs as their main priority. This fact sug-
gests that further business training for entrepreneurial
journalists may be necessary so that they can make their
projects focused more on the examination of news op-
portunities in targeted audiences than in the use of new
technologies. Fulfilment of the audiences’ unmet needs
is likely to occur irrespective of the medium or format
employed to appeal to them.
Interestingly, three of these projects regard them-
selves as ‘alternative media,’ producing content espe-
cially addressed to minorities and covering topics and is-
sues that are usually ignored by traditional media.
Besides, it is clear for the Latin American podcast
providers that their audience is young, as observed by
Newman (2019b). Despite this assumption, the strategic
planning approaches adopted by these media exhibit a
general lack of knowledge concerning their main target
groups. This situation may impede not only their design
and implementation of any news service but also their
ability to reach advertisers and other clients.
These digital media assume they benefit from two ad-
vantages that distinguish them from competitors: occu-
pying a market niche or offering a news service with a
Media and Communication, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 159–170 166
unique approach. In general, they perceive that there is
a low level of competition.
To analyse the potential of podcasts to boost a jour-
nalists’ personal brand (RO3), it should be noted that
none of the media outlets studied have been promoted
just by one person. Thus, from this research, we cannot
establish a direct connection between podcasting and
the potential of this emergent medium to expand a jour-
nalists’ personal brand. This is probably due to the fact
that such professional podcasting involves greater tech-
nical complexity and more investment in technical equip-
ment and, as a result, it may require the participation of
a number of professionals.
In accordance with Toural and López (2019), the dig-
ital media outlets in this research use a combination of
platforms to produce and disseminate news. The most
frequently employed are Facebook and Twitter, followed
by Instagram, YouTube, mobile apps, and newsletters.
The results of this study also point out some of the
motivations that led entrepreneurs to news podcast pro-
duction (RO4). While this audio format generates inter-
est for its potential to innovate in narratives (Lindgren,
2016; Pérez & Lus, 2019) or the opportunity to reach
younger audiences, the promoters appear not to have
considered all of the aspects outlined by scholars such
as portability and synchrony (Salgado, 2010). On the con-
trary, they consider podcasts as having the potential to
build new relationships with audiences by generating
communities (González-Alba, 2018).
Regarding their business models and the chances of
monetisation (RO5), the podcasters emphasized the rele-
vance of diversifying revenue sources in order to ensure
the viability of their entrepreneurships. Among the vari-
ety of ways these news media have found to monetise
themselves, content production for clients (private com-
panies or public institutions) is particularly important.
This result contrasts with the survey conducted by
SembraMedia (2016) among digital media registered in
its database. That study concluded that the main rev-
enue sources for the new journalistic projects in Latin
America were banners, native adverts or sponsored con-
tent, and consulting and training services. However, the
monetisation of podcasts via subscriptions still seems to
be difficult. This revenue source ranks in the sixth posi-
tion according to the promoters’ responses.
As usual in media companies, salaries earned by em-
ployees represent the most important expenditure item
for these Latin American journalistic projects. It is encour-
aging that the podcasters interviewed consider their me-
dia are already profitable or may become lucrative within
three years. This variety of income-generating activities
may serve as a safeguard for these new media that have
started to discover podcasts as a route to make journal-
ism more profitable.
This article sheds light on news podcasting in Latin
America which has been an underexplored area in jour-
nalism studies. It also outlines some editorial approaches
and business models of audio digital media registered
in the main directory of digital natives in the subconti-
nent to better understand an emerging phenomenon in
Spanish-speaking markets.
However, some limitations of this study must be ac-
knowledged. The first is related to the sample size. The
reduced number of units of analysis makes it difficult to
generalise the results, although the main goal of this case
study is to provide key elements to explain a new and
complex phenomenon.
The second limitation is a consequence of the geo-
graphic distance and the lack of physical accessibility to
participants in the study. This prevented us from holding
face-to-face interviews with entrepreneurial journalists
to be able to carry out a more thorough analysis and gain
in-depth knowledge about the research topic.
Further research is needed to better understand the
emergent production and consumption of news pod-
casts in Latin American markets. On the one hand, this ar-
ticle will be complemented with an additional sub-study
of the contents of each podcast provider in order to
explore and compare their characteristics such as for-
mats, topics, frequencies, and production routines. On
the other hand, this research will need to be updated in
three years since the digital media companies analysed
assert they already are, or are going to be, profitable by
the end of this period. Thus, further research will ver-
ify the evolution of these journalistic entrepreneurships
and their strategic approaches.
Acknowledgments
The authors would like to thank anonymous reviewers
for their valuable feedback and suggestions.
Conflict of Interests
The authors declare no conflict of interests.
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About the Authors
José Luis Rojas-Torrijos is a Lecturer in the Department of Journalism II at the University of Seville.
He also participates in the MA programmes in journalism and sports communication at Pompeu
Fabra University, the European University in Madrid, San Antonio Catholic University in Murcia, and
Marca–CEU University. He holds a PhD in Journalism (2010) and a BA in Information Sciences (1994)
from the University of Seville. His research focuses on sports journalism, ethics, stylebooks, and digi-
tal storytelling.
Francisco Javier Caro-González is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Communication at the Univer-
sity of Seville. He holds a PhD in Business Administration from the University of Seville (2002). He is a
member of the Communication & Social Sciences research group. He has been the Principal Researcher
of the project R+D+I (2007–2010) “The Information Needs of Women.” His research focuses on en-
trepreneurship journalism, organizational change, and media companies.
José Antonio González-Alba is a Researcher and a PhD Student in Communication from the University
of Cádiz. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Seville and a MA in Innovation in Journalism
from the Miguel Hernández University. His research focuses on digital transformation and innova-
tion laboratories in media outlets. He is an expert in business communication and works as a Digital
Transformation Trainer for media organisations. He is also the current Ambassador of SembraMedia
in Spain.
Media and Communication, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 159–170 170
... This database has been used in other studies concerning the journalistic sector (F. J. Caro-González et al., 2019;Rojas-Torrijos et al., 2020). ...
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