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Are podcasts recession-proof?

By: Hebah Fisher, Cofounder and CEO 

While global markets are sustaining heavy losses and many fear a pending recession, the Middle East is similarly affected by these economic realities. KSA and UAE are “boosting state spending on social welfare by billions of dollars as they seek to shield their citizens from rising living costs” (Source: Reuters). In the UAE, this includes financial support of $7.6b to low-income Emirati families, and $5.33b from KSA to cushion rising inflation. 

As household finances are continually squeezed, many are reevaluating their “luxury” expenses: and, entertainment is often questioned first. Even wealthy individuals question the collective cost of subscriptions to Netflix, OSN+, Shahid, Anghami, Spotify, etc each month. Meanwhile, ad-driven podcasts are free for listeners to continue to consume, and so audiences keep these podcast subscriptions and their listening habits. 

“This makes it all the more important for publishers to be concentrating on the creation of regular, unmissable content,” says Dan Ison (Deloitte). 

We all know that podcasting data is unfortunately sparse in MENA, so let’s look at a recent UK report to help illustrate how this is playing out. Given the strong retention of podcast audiences, advertisers are smartly investing their budgets in podcasts: audio revenue is up 500% in the first quarter 2022, when compared to the same Q1 of 2021 (Source: Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index, Deloitte). 

So, we ask you: is your brand allocating advertising spend in the right places? Podcast audiences are engaged, loyal, and here to stay.