Webster: Future of Podcasting Lies In Original, Bite-Size ContentMay 20th, 2009 | By Elisabeth Lewin | Category: Podcasting, The New Media Update
At his blog, The Infinite Dial, Webster qualifies the cup-is-half-empty findings of the Zenith Optimedia report (as detailed by eMarketer). To review, Zenith sees the future of podcasting as rosy and profitable only for the lucky few, and podcasting ad revenue will remain a small piece of the total online advertising pie.
Webster, on the other hand, points out (with some fun “Terminator” references) that an alternate future is possible for podcasting. He says that podcasting today, in his view, falls into the niche, “indie” camp, or into the big bin of repurposed content from “mainstream producers.” Most niche content, being niche, won’t attract a huge audience (or huge revenues). Repurposed old-media content won’t yield new audiences or drive income growth, in Webster’s view.
So, how to make the best use of “unique attributes of the [podcast] medium” and spark growth in both the audience size and the market for downloadable media? Webster says to think PODCASTING:
P: Portable. More than two-thirds of podcast consumers continue to report listening more to podcasts tethered to their computer (where they compete with everything) than they do on portable devices–where new listening opportunities for broadcast content abound. Location-specific, activity-specific and context-specific content opens up all kinds of creative programming and revenue opportunities.
O: Original. Content that you can’t get anywhere else, like the unaired “fourth hour” of your morning show, local music features, or local public affairs programming–basically, anything you can think of that won’t fly as broadcast, mass-appeal content that nevertheless has a place with passionate sub-groups of your audience.
D: Discrete. Think “Song,” not necessarily “Show.” Bite-sized, easily digestible content chunks allow the podcast listener/viewer to create their own ‘playlist’ of content. I rarely miss Jon Gordon’s “Future Tense” or my friend Chris MacDonald’s IndieFeed podcasts because they are both around five minutes long, and I can easily stick them in the same playlist for my morning run.
C: Compelling. Goes without saying.
ASTING: I got nothin’. OK, you really only need to tackle the first four.
The suggestions are sensible, and content producers should take many of these ideas to heart. But the arguments overlook or exclude some of the best things about podcasting as the medium stands today.
For example, “This American Life” is, essentially, just a podcast edition of its weekly public radio program. But while the radio audience for the show has levelled at (a respectable) 1.8 million, the podcast of the show has gained a half a milliion listeners who otherwise would not be listening to the show. And the show ignores the “bite size” caveat, weighing in at an hour per episode.
What do you see as the podcasting “success stories” of today? What “rules” would you lay down to assure that the downloadable media industry thrives and grows?