If 2017 was the year of the podcast, 2018 is shaping up for more of the same. The recent Edison Research 2018 Infinite Dial report into podcast listening trends revealed that 26 percent of Americans now listen to a podcast each month, a rise of two percentage points on 2017, while the number of podcasts they listen to each week has risen to seven per week, on average — up from five last year.
Against that backdrop, New York-based podcasting platform Anchor, which has big-name backers such as Alphabet’s investment arm GV, has unveiled an interesting new feature designed to help podcasters find like-minded people to work with on their broadcasts.
Available through the Anchor Android and iOS app, the aptly named “cohosts” feature essentially matches you with other users who are looking to discuss the same topic, be it photography, baseball, or vegan cuisine. You can choose a pre-set topic from the app’s homescreen, or specify something a little more niche, and Anchor then finds other users who have indicated a desire to talk about that subject.
Anchor gives the two cohosts a 30-second virtual meet-and-greet to discuss how they’re going to tackle their conversation, and recording starts there. This doesn’t provide a great deal of time to plan things, but it does have the potential to make for a lively impromptu discussion. Notably, the conversation isn’t published immediately — both participants are given a copy of the chat so they can do what they wish with the recording.
Founded in 2015, Anchor is one of a number of podcasting platforms to raise venture capital cash in recent times, having attracted more than $14 million in the past two years from the likes of Betaworks, Accel, and GV. Prior to an update earlier this year, Anchor was more about allowing its users to record short-form audio snippets that could be published across the social sphere, but a few months back it introduced a complete redesign with podcasting at its core — this included creator tools, distribution mechanisms, analytics, and a new web-based interface.
Anchor actually rolled out a feature last year called “record with friends” that allowed users to record audio tidbits with up to seven contacts. The latest cohosts feature builds on that premise by automating the process, opening things to the whole world, and focusing on shared expertise or interests.