November 7, 2019
A little under 200 miles away from Delhi, in the remote town of Bareilly in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Lav Tomar, a 26-year-old theater artist, wraps up his day by listening to Manto ki kahaniya. It’s a podcast featuring narrations of writer Sadat Hasan Manto’s stories on the Aawaz app, a provider of local language audio content. It’s how Tomar kicks back and relaxes, a habit he picked up earlier this year when the app was launched. Before this, Tomar was an avid radio listener.
Though nascent, India's podcast market is the world’s third-largest after China and the U.S. But even without the numbers, investors and companies are betting on the market’s potential, and that Indian audio will go the way of video — after all, India is already the biggest market for both YouTube and TikTok.
“It took significant time for podcasts and non-music audio content to become mainstream in the U.S. In India, we are seeing a significant acceleration in adoption over the last three to four years,” said Pranav Pai, the founding partner of venture capital firm 3One4 Capital, which recently invested in vernacular podcast startup KuKu FM.