Science Spain , Salamanca, Friday, April 24 of 2015, 14:00

The UPSA studies the evolution of podcasts in Spain and Latin America

The audio archives available on the Internet are a little known communication format that however attracts a loyal following, according to research by the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca

José Pichel Andrés/DICYT A project of the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca (UPSA) is analysing the evolution of podcasts, digital audio archives on very varied themes that users can find and share on the Internet. A study carried out at the UPSA observed the changes that occurred between 2008 and 2011 in Spain and Latin America, and the objective of the follow-up to this research is to continue to investigate the characteristics of this communication format and its consumption.


“We want to find out about the evolution of podcasts, their user profile, and their current behaviour”, María Blanco points out to DiCYT. This UPSA technician is in charge of the project; she wrote her doctoral thesis on the results of the previous research under the supervision of Alfonso José López Rivero and Emma Rodero.


“When podcasts appeared it looked as it they would become the major new communication format together with blogs, but the latter have progressed a lot and podcasts have not”, she points out. “We believe that general consumption has not risen between 2011 and 2015, but we also have the hypothesis that users are more loyal and devote more time to them; we believe that those who draw up the archives do so in a more professional manner”, she adds.


By means of 14,000 surveys in 2008 and 24,000 in 2011 that were carried out by e-mail in Spain and Latin America, the previous research revealed some curious facts. For example, the first sample shows that the podcasts most listened to were those pertaining to technology, news, and games, while only three years later preferences had changed and the favourite themes were those of leisure, science, sports, and games.


The podcast consumer profile is that of a man aged 19 or 20, with primary and secondary studies and resources and who generally makes purchases on-line. Users listen to the archives mainly on computers, both by downloading and by streaming, although increased consumption by using mobile devices was observed with an average time of rather less than two hours per day.


“Most people say that they listen to them mainly as an amusement and consider that they give them faster and easier access to information than other means”, María Blanco notes.




The two stages of the survey had already revealed a trend: there was a decrease in knowledge, general listening, and subscriptions to podcast archives, but daily consumption increased. “We wonder why this format is so little known; hardly anyone knows what a podcast is but people who do know a lot about them and consume several”, the technician indicates. Almost all podcast users have subscriptions to several and it appears to be a product that generates great loyalty.


No major differences have been found between Spain and Latin America, although on the other side of the Atlantic consumption is somewhat greater and many existing podcasts are related to education. Some studies have been carried out on the American continent on podcasts in an educational context.


However, in keeping with the general lack of knowledge of podcasts, there are no studies such as this one in the Spanish-speaking world. In the United States on the other hand, the phenomenon has been much more widely researched and the consumer profile is similar to that of Latin America, although listeners are older.


In the new stage of the research, which began six months ago and may yield results in June, the idea is for the sample to also be very extensive so as to continue to analyse the evolution of the format. However, this project also aims to gather another kind of information. “We want to analyse the content and the structure of the podcasts that are most frequently listened to, studying thoroughly the duration, the subjects, and the people taking part”, María Blanco reveals.