Research: How AI tools like ChatGPT are already impacting the podcast industry

Research: How AI tools like ChatGPT are already impacting the podcast industry

A new Acast survey uncovers the sentiment around the use of ChatGPT and other AI tools in the podcast industry


Publicly accessible artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT seem poised to bring about major changes across nearly every industry, including podcasting. Its potential use cases in the podcast world range from assisting creators with light-touch processes — like drafting newsletter copy or creating episode summaries — to projects that require a heavier lift. 

So how exactly are creators, listeners, and advertisers responding to the new technology?

To find out, Acast surveyed podcasters and podcast listeners to uncover their perspectives on the coming impact of such innovations. The research — conducted in January 2023 — featured a sample of 50 podcasters and nearly 300 listeners in the US who were all familiar with ChatGPT. Here’s what we found.

Creators and listeners overwhelmingly support the use of AI tools — but differ on how they should be used

All podcasters surveyed (100%) and the vast majority of listeners (85%) believe that it’s ethical for podcasters to use AI tools to create podcast content. 

But podcasters are far more likely than listeners (84% vs. 36%, respectively) to believe there should be no limits on how podcasters use the tools. About half of listeners (49%) believe it’s ethical for podcasters to use such tools as long as they’re only being used for idea generation.

Tommy Walters, Commercial Insights Manager at Acast, explains that listeners want their favorite podcasters to continue to bring original work and creativity to their shows. 

“What makes podcasting so special is the intimate bond podcasters form with their listeners, which arises from authentic storytelling that fosters connection. It’s most important for podcasters not to jeopardize that bond,” he says.

“While podcasters may be ready to dive headfirst into AI technology, their listeners want them to use the technology to enhance — not replace — human thinking. Podcasters should use AI to help them plan their content, but they shouldn’t use it to automate the entire creative process.”

Creators and listeners are hopeful that AI will improve the quality of podcast content  

At present, most podcasters (84%) and podcast listeners (57%) expect ChatGPT and similar tools will improve the quality of podcast content. But podcasters are significantly more likely to say AI will help make content “much better” — while a plurality of listeners believe it will make content “slightly better.” 

“Listeners are optimistic about the impact of AI, but they’re proceeding with caution,” says Walters. “Podcasters should honor that trust and not let AI encroach on the qualities that make their shows special.”

AI underscores the need for podcasters to cultivate a relationship with their listeners

There’s consensus among creators and listeners that AI will have a positive impact on the creation and quality of podcast content. With AI’s ability to quickly and efficiently parse information, it has the potential to offer clear benefits for content creators. 

But in order for podcasters to use AI responsibly, they must align with audience expectations.

“Our research illustrates just how important it is for podcasters to truly know their audience if they want to harness the benefits of AI,” says Walters. 

“Podcasters that form a deep relationship with their listeners and an open line of communication will have a clear understanding of what their listeners love about their show. That gives creators the intel they need on how they should and shouldn’t use AI.”

Advertisers can use AI to improve efficiency based on listeners’ perception 

While the research didn’t survey advertisers, the findings provide a clear takeaway for them when it comes to using AI.

Podcast advertisers can use AI to improve their speed and efficiency in campaign planning and creation, supporting them with processes like research and ad copy creation. But they would maximize their campaigns by respecting listeners’ expectations and desires.

“Listeners, the target audience for podcast advertisers, have made it loud and clear that they value authenticity,” says Walters. “When crafting campaigns, podcast advertisers would do well to use AI in a way that helps them improve their efficiency — without compromising on the authenticity of the campaign.”

The bottom line: When it comes to using AI responsibly, it’s all about the execution.