Listeners Wary of AI, but Podcasters Not Planning to Go All in on It

Right now, AI technology for podcasters is advancing so fast that sometimes, it can feel like you don’t even have time to form an opinion on it.

Which is why it’s so interesting when studies like this come out. Acast surveyed both podcasters and listeners to see how their views compare on the topic of using AI tools in the podcast creation process. 

The study, which surveyed 50 creators and 300 listeners, yielded interesting results. It found that podcast creators feel much more comfortable with the idea of using AI tools like ChatGPT to create their podcasts than listeners feel about them using the tech. Listeners are more sceptical of AI.

Let’s take a closer look at the data, and consider how reports like this might influence how we use AI in our podcasts moving forward. Plus, we take a look at some of our own data that suggests listeners don’t have to worry about AI taking over their favourite podcasts.

Key Takeaways From The Study

1. Listeners are more sceptical of AI than creators

According to the study, listeners don’t believe AI will have the same positive impact on content quality as creators think it will. 

Of those surveyed, a large majority of creators (74%) said they think AI will make the quality of podcast content ‘much better’, whereas only 20% of listeners said they believe it will. Listeners were more likely to say they expect no impact (28%) or that it could even worsen the quality of content (10% vs 4% of creators).

Source: Acast

2. 15% of listeners think using AI to make podcasts is unethical

Interestingly, 15% of listeners said they think it’s unethical for podcasters to use AI tools to create their podcasts, whereas no creators thought this was the case. 

A substantial 84% of podcast creators said that, because AI tools like ChatGPT are publicly available, they should be able to use them in any way they want. Only 36% of listeners agreed.

The majority of listeners surveyed (49%) said they thought using these tools was only ‘ethical’ if podcasters were using them to help with idea generation (vs just 16% of creators).

Source: Acast

AI and Ethics: The Problem With This Report

While this study brings interesting results, it’s problematic that respondents were only asked about idea generation as a potentially ethical use of AI in the creative process. Why would idea generation be a more ‘ethical’ use of these tools than for generating transcripts, for example, which aid accessibility and can be costly for independent podcasters? 

Ethics are subjective, so there’s no guidebook to using AI ‘ethically’ in your podcast process (or in any other area of your life, for that matter).

You could also argue that using AI for your idea generation means letting the robots hijack what makes your podcast unique: creativity. Aren’t our ideas exactly what gives us an advantage over AI?

And if you’re continuously using ChatGPT to come up with ideas for your podcast, couldn’t you run the risk of churning out the same old content as every other podcaster using ChatGPT for the same thing? 

It would be interesting to see a breakdown of all stages of the creation process to see which ones listeners and creators deem ‘ethical’ to bring in AI tools for help. 

AI and Ethics: A Different Angle

For some people, using AI ‘ethically’ in the creation process might look quite different. For example, lightening the workload in areas that slow your creative process down or, prevent you from publishing the volume of content you’d like could be considered a better use of these tools.

Creating show notes, churning out transcriptions or creating guest bios are all uncreative, laborious tasks that can get in the way of you making the podcast you want to make. In our Indypodder Census, podcasters even told us that outsourcing would be the first thing they’d spend money on if they had extra budget to spend on their show.

Allowing AI tools to handle these tasks would give you the space you need to improve your podcast. So surely that’s an ethical way to use AI too?

Why Listeners Don’t Need to Worry About AI Taking Over Podcasting

And there’s another aspect to this. The growing concern that podcasters will gradually replace themselves with AI suggests they’d be willing to do that in the first place. But why would they?

Undoubtedly, AI will bring about significant and disruptive changes in podcasting (along with the world in general). There’s no doubt a few will abuse these technologies, too. But let’s take a look at some other data which suggests listeners aren’t going to be tricked into listening to a load of robot-generated content any time soon.

Our Podcast Planner Tool has been filled out by over 2700 aspiring and early-stage podcasters, so it’s a pretty decent sample size. Here are some key takeaways.

68% say their unique solution is their “unique personal angle” – something that can’t be replaced with AI.

63% view podcasting “success” as being able to help, support, and motivate their listeners – it’s unlikely they’ll be content to let AI try and motivate them, instead.

50% (on podcasting success) say they just want a creative outlet to have fun and talk about their passion.

Whilst 40% said the primary purpose of their show was as a creative outlet or hobby, and to have fun.

AI can do many things, but it can’t have fun for us. And podcasting, as a medium, is primarily about people. Its big strengths are in the power of human voice, emotion, and experience.

Podcasters will undoubtedly use AI-based tools to plug skill gaps and assist with some of the more onerous tasks. But our data suggests that the end product will very much be by humans, for humans.

And, as Acast’s data suggests, if it isn’t, listeners will vote with their downloads. If a podcast has more AI than host in it, it’ll simply never compete with the many podcasts out there that are fuelled by someone’s passion, drive, and purpose.

Originally posted on March 20, 2023 @ 2:24 am

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