I remember having a conversation with my sister the last time I was home about all of the new podcasts I was listening to, and my adorable mom turned around and asked, “What’s a ‘podcast’?”
If I recall correctly, after a moment of hesitation I had an answer along the lines of; “It’s like a radio program, but it’s on-demand, like a video is on Netflix.”
In my first post, I mentioned podcasting as one of the growing parts of the many-branched tree that I’m encompassing with my exploration of web-based entertainment. It wasn’t until I started looking into the podcasting biz’ that I realized how much it has exploded in the last five years.
With Steve Jobs’ announcement in 2001 of the iPod, music listening was revolutionized with the option to carry thousands of songs in the palm of your hand. Just like that, Apple put on-demand audio on the map. Within the next several years, on-demand audio narratives that were coined with the device’s name and a clever play on ‘broadcast’, “podcasts,” became a small, but thriving entertainment industry, but the numbers were nowhere near what they are today. The podcast game dwindled, but then had a resurgence in 2008 with the launch of the iPhone. Again, the industry shrank but in 2012, the podcast game hit the ground running when iOS 6 came out with the purple Podcasts app for the iPhone. By iOS 8, the app came pre-installed on the iPhone, and was unable to be deleted: Thus the podcasting renaissance was born.
In addition to easier accessibility, the increase of podcast popularity can be attributed to the quality of the programs. The podcasts in the early days were either great–like NPR–or more along the lines of ‘two guys sit around and talk sports for an hour and that’s it, with this one microphone they got from Best Buy.’ Nowadays, it’s so much easier to get a hold of decent equipment, and most of the podcasts are really well planned and produced.
Another reason that podcasting could be growing, and I’m going off of these two articles for the details, is due to the economic potential that they have. The cost of producing the average podcast is far less than the cost to produce a TV or radio show, and the advertising rates are more than enough to pay for the production. I’ll quote from the first article to give exacts:
“Several top podcasters told me that their CPM (the cost to an advertiser per thousand impressions, a standard ad-industry unit) was between $20 and $45. Compare that to a typical radio CPM (roughly $1 to $18) or network TV ($5 to $20) or even a regular old web ad ($1 to $20), and the podcast wins.”
Now, you may be wondering; if the audience isn’t as big as TV or radio, why does it pay more to advertise on a podcast? Podcasts are revered for the personal nature that they can bring to the ad-reads. If someone is a loyal listener to a podcast, they feel a personal connection to the voice they’re hearing, and they’ve chosen to listen to that particular podcast out of all the choices that are available. The listener is more likely to listen, to actually listen, to that ad, and that increases the likelihood of the ad raking in potential customers.
Finally, one of the most interesting observations that I found for the Great Podcast Boom is that there is an audience for audio-entertainment already: Those in-transit listen to music, or if you’re in the car, it’s the radio. But cars are changing, and with more and more cars coming equipped with internet radio, Bluetooth, and auxiliary cords that allow your phone to sync to your car, more and more people are choosing the programs they listen to rather than let the AM/FM world drone on and make you listen to songs and people you don’t want to hear while you’re stuck in traffic. Podcasts are quite literally taking the place of radio show, and anyone who is interested in radio or even television might look at the pattern that podcasting is taking and liken it to that of digital video.
The podcast game is growing exponentially, and it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.