Wondering About Podcasting

The other day I was having a conversation with John about podcasting. Why has this medium failed to continue to grow. I feel as though podcasting should be more mainstream by now especially with the success of iTunes and all the free content available.

So, question, has podcasting continued to grow or has it reached its plateau?

I feel that Apple hasn’t done a very good job about promoting and talking about podcasts since it originally launced. But my simple thought is that Apple created the podcasts as a way to show how audio and video mediums could be transmitted through iTunes store. This is was important to them in order to get the TV, movie and music deals they did to really make money. Don’t get me wrong here iTunes store is still awesome for podcasters but I’d like to see more podcasting support on the higher apple level.

Podcasts in the iTunes store for free are one of the reasons I love Apple. However, you can see how they originally didn’t support podcasts in the iPhone iTunes store. So food for thought.

6 thoughts on “Wondering About Podcasting

  1. I think my “problem” (if you could call it that) with podcasts has always been the medium. The only way I watch/listen to them is through my computer, and with so much going on at once on my screen, it’s easy for me to get sidetracked, and some time passes before I realize that I completely lost track of what I was listening to (or, in rare cases, something more important/interesting pops up on the screen, and I have to switch the sound over, and then I forget to eventually switch back).

    And I don’t run or ride planes (or buses?) enough to be able to sit down and listen to my iPhone. I hardly ever use earphones anymore.

  2. Yes, I would. I’m usually at full attention when I’m listening to a friend’s, or something that has been recommended to me by a friend who knows my taste. But it isn’t the sort of thing that I’m going to go searching for.

    As far as the car, that would be a great solution. However, my current car is about as old as my sister, who is 15. I’m lucky if I can get a radio station to come in clearly. Needless to say, I’m not wired while driving.

  3. Great question Norm! At the Podcamp Ohio there was a session called, Why Podcasts Suck, or something like that, and part of the focus of that session was your question. I didn’t go it it- another competing session captured my attention.

    I am someone who watches and listens to a number of podcasts. I ride the bus to work, and also listen in the car. Rachel Maddow and AC360 get me to work every morning! And I listen to all sorts of podcasts including the G-spod, but DJ G and Carman. I like the fact that podcasts can be everywhere from a person who simply records themselves to a polished professional show r a high quality “radio-like program inthe middle of that spectrum.

    First, I’m not sure that Apple started podcasts. YouTube has been doing this for a while haven’t they? Granted that is video mostly, but I think that points out one of the major problems- many people aren’t clear what a podcast is exactly. It might be audio, it might be video, it might be an mp3 or it might be other formats. This confusion and lack of a simple avenue for podcasts is a part of the problem.

    Second, podcasts aren’t searchable or indexed like blogs. sure you can do a search in iTunes, but my experience is that often I find too much junk I don’t want and lose interest in going through the results before I find what I do want.

    I often get to blog entries on blogs I don’t usually read because of search results or Google Alert results. I’l generally read individual blog entries, ad if a blog has several that interest me, I’ll add it to my feed in Google Reader. There is no easy way to follow this style with podcasts in iTunes.

    Third, too many podcasts go belly up. Ill do a search and find one that looks interesting and on-topic, only to see that they only produced 1 or 2 episodes a few years ago. I’m guilty myself of not keeping up with producing my own podcast enough, so I get it, but this is a hindrance IMHO.

    Fourth, from a podcaster’s perspective, itunes doesn’t offer you very much. Unlike a blog, where readers post comments directly while reading your blog, it takes A LOT for a listener to go in and leave you a comment or a review, because most likely they are listening remotely on their iPod et al. It is easy to wonder, is anyone listening/watching? Is all of my work worth it? If Apple wanted to to thrive, it would make an easy way, within iTunes for you as the podcast producer to see how many are subscribed to your podcast, and other stuff that can help to keep a person engaged.

    I want to say something about the quality of what is out there. There are podcasts out there with great content, but the speaker is too annoying to listen to, and there are podcasts with a real lack of meaningful content, but which are a great listen. Not everyone coms across well as a voice or talking head. This is often less of an issue with blogging.

    I too, like the fact that podcasts are free, but I think that is a problem as well. I think podcast producers should be able to set a price- $.29 or $.49 or $.99 or something and allow a podcast to be an income stream, just like apps in the app store.

  4. Rachel and Tom make great points: audio and video are “harder” to consume than text. Blogs are easier to build than audio or video because blogs can be read anywhere, written anywhere, skimmed and easily re-incorporated into other blogs. And since social media has veered so strongly in the direction of self-promotion, rather than artistic creation, it makes sense that people choose to express themselves in the medium most likely to be consumed and shared by others.

  5. Other possible factors:

    1) Depending on your interests and intended audience, a podcast might be old news before it hits the net. You either have to be fast and relentless or able to find the low frequency signals in the high frequency noise.

    2) Podcasts are much harder to consume than blogs. I can slice and dice feeds in a zillion ways, but podcast consumption options are limited. I’ve been using a podcastcher called HappyFish because the one in iTunes sucks. HF isn’t perfect (and isn’t being maintained anymore), but it offers me a lot more options for how to retreive, name, store, etc. episodes. The relative dearth of decent podcatchers is rather surprising to me given then plethora of geeks devoting spare time to crowdsource lots of other cool social media tools.

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