3 mins read

Meet HeadlinerFlix: a Netflix for podcasts hoping to solve discoverability problems

One of podcasting’s biggest challenges of the past decade has been discoverability. Finding new shows is challenging, and only the blockbuster hits seem to manage to scrape into Apple’s charts. It’s an issue companies have put a lot of effort towards solving over the past 12 months, with Spotify at the forefront launching tools like ‘Your Daily Podcast’ and ‘Morning Drive,’ as well as redesigning to promote discovery.

Helping people discover new podcasts will be the key to unlocking the next wave of growth in podcasting. According to Edison research, of the 68% of people who haven’t listened to a podcast in the past month, 65% of them said that the issue was there were so many podcasts they didn’t know where to start.

Headliner is trying to solve that issue. The platform is popularly used by podcasters to create audiograms – mini shareable videos that can be used to promote clips of a podcast on social media. Podcast audio can be overlaid with animations, captions, gifs and more, and quickly exported to social accounts.

The team behind Headliner believe that podcasting is following a similar trajectory to blogging at the start of the millennium. In a post on Medium, co-founder Oliver Wellington wrote:

“We’re seeing a huge similarity between the blogging of the early 2000s and the podcasting of today: vast amounts of great content waiting to be discovered.”

Wellington argues that although many companies are having a fair go at becoming the ‘Netflix of podcasting’; creating original content and placing it behind a paywall, no one has yet truly got close to the podcast version of Netflix’s recommendation engine. “If they had, more of America would be digging into the amazing podcasts that are currently available,” he said.

Headliner’s primary use case is for creating short snippets of podcasts to tempt people to listen further. “We think that these short video clips are the first step to unlocking discovery for podcasting,” said Wellington. “Think of them as short movie trailers for your podcast.”

As a result, Headliner has built HeadlinerFlix; a mix of Headliner video tech and the famously simple Netflix user interface. The videos act as mini-trailers for podcasts, with a mix of fully automated videos using their Headline Automation product, and some that have been created by a human editor.

HeadlinerFlix’s homepage

“HeadlinerFlix is an experimental project we’ve started as part of the larger mission we’re spearheading at Headliner to bring greater attention to the challenge of podcast discovery,” Wellington told WNIP.

“This really was the culmination of everything we’ve learned so far about the effectiveness of taking short podcast clips, turning them into videos, and sharing them on social media. We took that and coupled it with what we knew about the power of content recommendations and discovery from our first company nRelate, and what we all experience with Netflix.”

The result is impressive. To echo Ren LaForme in Poynter, it leaves us questioning why something like this doesn’t already exist. “Even as an experiment, it blows away every other podcasting tool,” writes LaForme.

It’s an excellent start, if not a little limited on actual podcasts. Should this initial test go well, Headliner has plans to expand the platform’s capability with preview videos for entire podcasts, and even better automation in audio selection and video creation.

“We’ve launched this as an experiment and have plans to add more features and updates in the coming months,” said Wellington to WNIP. “It’s very early days, but we’ve got a lot of positive feedback so far.”

“Our best is fast forward a year or two and all podcasting consumption will move toward a model like this,” Neil Mody, co founder and CEO of Headliner told Poynter.

Previewing an episode through an audiogram

Rather than believing this is the solution to all podcasting’s troubles, Wellington instead sees this as a platform to jumpstart the conversation around podcast discoverability. “Think of this site more like a fun prototype to try, rather than a fully baked product,” he emphasises. 

HeadlinerFlix may not be solving the world’s podcasting problems just yet, but as with all new launches, the more podcasts that join it, the more useful it will be. It currently has a submission form open at the bottom of the site to get your own podcast on there.

And from a personal perspective, Headliner itself is a great tool if you’re a publisher looking to give your own podcasts a bit of a marketing boost. We use it frequently at Media Voices to create short clips of our guests to share across social media.