Teaching Examples

Does podcasting have a future?
November 29, 2006, 1:31 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It may not seem promising when you learn that only 12 percent of Internet users have downloaded a podcast for later listening, according to research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. But note that it doesn’t say “have listened to” — it says “have downloaded.” (I think many people listen online without downloading.)

Then compare that number, from an August 2006 survey, with a comparable finding of only 7 percent of Internet users who reported podcast downloading in Pew’s February-April 2006 survey.

Then I’m recognizing a significant increase. That got my attention.

The Pew data memo (PDF, 4 pages) about this is online.

However, few internet users are downloading podcasts with great frequency; in both surveys, just 1% report downloading a podcast on a typical day.

Men are more likely than women to report podcast downloading; 15% of online men say they have downloaded a podcast, compared with just 8% of online women. And those who have used the internet for six or more years are twice as likely as those who have been online three years or less to have downloaded a podcast (13% vs. 6%).

Podcast Alley lists more than 26,000 different podcasts, totaling more than 1 million episodes.

In 2005, four MBA students and their professor surveyed the field of podcasting and observed:

Given the ease with which podcasts can be created, the only true barrier to entry — or at least a barrier to generating a sizable listener base — is product differentiation. Given the ease with which podcasts can be subscribed to and discarded, consumers are only going to tolerate podcasts that appeal to them. This creates a challenge for new podcasters — how to differentiate their podcast from the thousands of others already on the Internet. Clearly focusing upon a niche area in which one has significant expertise is one means of doing this. However, as with traditional radio, insightfulness, entertainment, and creativity will be necessary to create audience interest and a listener base of any significant size.

This conclusion is backed up by Michael Geoghegan, creator of the “Podcast of the Year,” Grape Radio (it’s all about wine), whom JD Lasica interviewed recently (MPEG4 video, 10 minutes).

“Your knowledge is worth more than your audience.” By this, Geoghegan means that someone will pay you for the expertise you bring to the table, rather than for the size of the audience you are able to amass.

How to make money? Geoghegan suggests you “find one or two corporate clients” to “underwrite all of your podcasting, plus have enough left over to pay your mortgage.”

And finally, he urges you to “podcast your passion.” The only way to find success at this, he says, is to do podcasts about what you really love.

JD’s post says a little more and links to the video.

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2 Comments so far
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Yes, I’d heard that increase in podcast listeners too. Don’t you think there are many Internet consumers out there who don’t realize it takes some time to find the ones that you really enjoy? When I first introduce grad students to podcasts they almost always say there’s no time to listen. Then, about 6 months later they e-mail me and tell me how they’re sooo addicted to podcasts. It’s not a spontaneous bonding, apparently.

Comment by Anonymous

That’s a very interesting observation. I think the “habit” of listening to a podcast is probably related to how people develop, or don’t develop, a habit of reading a daily newspaper. If a podcast is good and is released at regular intervals, maybe over time a person becomes regular downloader. But for any podcast that you listen to once and decide it’s not for you, that is one you will never go back to.

Comment by Mindy McAdams

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