Explosion of downloads for top audio drama shows

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Two of the leading internet audio dramas, We’re Alive – A Story of Survival, and Welcome to Night Vale have watched their downloads go through the roof in the last couple of years. Both have produced quality content on a consistent and regular release schedule, and this has helped their numbers to snowball as fans tell friends, friends become fans, and these new fans tell more friends. The shows have attracted a degree of publicity in the mainstream media too, last year BuzzFeed ran an article titled Unlikely Birth of a Once-Dead Art Form, focusing heavily on the success of We’re Alive and Night Vale.

Article author Jordan Zakarin wrote that “We’re Alive, which releases three episodes per month, averages 100,000 streams per show and is tipping toward 20 million total downloads.” Less than a year later, I asked creator/director Kc Wayland how these numbers were looking now that they’d reached the end of the last season of main story content, and were moving on to producing a Tales from We’re Alive follow up series. He told me that they had now broken the 30 million mark across all download platforms and directories.

The huge swell in Night Vale’s downloads looks to have been a bit more instant. According to The Making of a Podcast Phenomenon – Welcome to Night Vale by the Numbers the show was sitting at 150,000 total downloads in June 2013, they hit  2,500,000 in July alone, and in August alone they more than doubled that figure with 5,800,000!

The article also claims it took only 20 seconds to sell out a 450 capacity live event in Brooklyn. We’re Alive has also enjoyed sellout success with its live events.

These huge numbers have naturally sent many fans of either show on the lookout for similar internet audio dramas, giving a boost to the medium, and many smaller shows out there. Many of these fans however, are looking for at least a couple of new releases per month, and produced to the premium quality standard that they are used to. At this stage, few, if any, can match that. One thing’s for sure though, producers and aspiring producers will be looking to these examples and seeing the massive potential that this medium has to offer – if you are willing to make the sacrifices to attempt something on the scale of either We’re Alive or Night Vale.

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