March 28, 2014

Podcasting Isn’t Making a Comeback…

Tags: Podcast

…Because it never left.

A renewed media interest in podcasting has given an appearance of a podcasting renaissance. Podcasting rock stars like Joe Rogan, Dan Carlin (Hardcore History) and Mark Maron (WTF Podcast) have drawn attention to the medium. Rob Walch, Vice President of Media Relations at Libsyn, explains that this creates a false illusion. There hasn’t been a recent surge in interest about podcasting. It’s been steadily on the rise since its inception, as ease of access has continually increased.

According to Rob, listening to a podcast was once a laborious process, not for the faint of heart. You first had to download a third-party application, manually locate an RSS feed, copy the feed into the application, sync the application to iTunes, then sync your iPod to iTunes, which required you to plug your phone into your computer, daily.

Now, users can search and access podcasts with increasing ease – particularly on mobile devices. Rob points out that 63 percent of all downloads are on mobile devices, a 20 percent increase over the previous year. Computer downloads now account for less than 40 percent of that number. He predicts that within the next several years, mobile devices will account for 75-80 percent of all downloads, before plateauing.

Though more and more people are listening to podcasts, that doesn’t mean that each person is listening to a greater number of podcasts. 63 percent of people who regularly listen to podcasts, listen to just three or fewer. It’s more about consistency than variety.

As the media has propagated the myth that podcasts are suddenly and unexpectedly on the rise, several other false ideas have sprung up around the idea of podcasting. Rob is very clear about this. While it is easy so set up a podcast, you are not going to get rich, you are not going to promote yourself into popularity, and good podcasts take a lot of time and effort. This final, firm insistence is the most important. He cites Carlin’s Hardcore History as the perfect example. His wildly popular podcast, which Rob is a regular listener of, airs only once every several weeks. However, each episode is several hours long, and requires hundreds of hours of work. Even Joe Rogan, he says, has a team that does extensive post-production work. While promotion is important, the key to success is your content.

Rob also has some very strong thoughts about Google, which I don’t want to spoil. You’ll just have to listen (teaser: “They are not a podcaster’s friend”). He’s a huge supporter of Apple and their products, which he says are unparalleled in their ease-of-use for podcasters and listeners. Their Podcasting app, which is “nearly native,” is the top application for podcasting. Stitcher Radio is the second most used application for iOS, and is Android’s go-to app for podcast consumption. Interestingly, iOS devices crush Android in podcast downloads, by a five to one margin. No doubt part of this discrepancy is due to the difficulty of getting discovered by Android users. One way to improve this is through the development of your own application, a service Rob’s company Libsyn provides.

For those still intimidated, he insists that a five-year-old can put together a successful podcast. Seriously. His son Porter, with less help from his dad than you would think, has put on his own podcast. His first episode has already been downloaded over 1,150 times in 72 countries.

What podcasters need to know:

  • Podcasting hasn’t exploded recently, it’s been steadily growing, and continues to grow
  • Mobile devices are taking over, and computer downloads are declining
  • Google is not your friend
  • Apple is your friend
  • Promote yourself, but remember that content is key
  • Podcasting is less crowded than blogging, and you can use it to separate yourself and your brand

Podcasting Statistics:

  • 63 percent of listeners listen to 3 or fewer podcasts
  • 63 percent of all podcasts were consumed through mobile devices, a 20% jump over the previous year
  • 4.9:1, the ratio of Apple device downloads to Android downloads
  • 1,700:1, the ratio of bloggers to podcasters
  • 13 – Percentage of female podcasters
  • 1,700 – Number of average downloads per podcast episode

What do you think about podcasts? Share your favorites in the comments below.

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