Are Major Corporations Killing The Podcast Space?

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Rob Hyndman is a Canadian Lawyer who is also a Blogger and one of the organizers behind the Mesh Conference (I’m a huge fan of his Blog). In a post from yesterday entitled, Podcasts: Everything Old Is New Again, Hyndman talks about his recent exploration for new Podcasts in iTunes and his feelings regarding the entry of many mainstream media into the space. I strongly recommend you read his post first here: Everything Old Is New Again. He ends the Blog entry with this thought:
“It was inevitable, I suppose, but I can’t help thinking that every time a new mainstream podcast crowds out a new podcaster, somewhere an angel dies.”
First off, full disclosure: Twist Image, helped Scotiabank launch and produce their Podcast, The Money Clip (Hyndman mentions the Scotiabank Podcast in his Blog entry).
I don’t think it’s a problem that mainstream media has started producing Podcasts, specifically because in this new channel it is not a clutter issue like it is on TV (i.e. 57 channels and nothing on). I call the new world, Digital Darwinism: you can produce as much content as you want, if it’s not good, no one will listen to it and subscribe (you won’t evolve, you’ll die). I really don’t care how or who produced it – I just want killer content.
It’s like search results – it doesn’t matter how many pages of Google search results there are for a given term, all that matters is that there is the one result that is relevant to what I was searching for. Twist Image and Scotiabank have discovered that there are many, many people looking for great content on personal finance (hence The Money Clip).
Right now, there are three types of Podcasts:
1. Independently produced content (like our Podcast, Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast).
2. Major media repackaging their content from other channels into a Podcast (like CBC 3).
3. Major corporations with budgets producing Podcasts (like Scotiabank’s The Money Clip).
I’m not sure that independently produced Podcasts should trump a major corporation with a budget. I think listeners are much smarter consumers than ever before and they are making much more diligent decisions about how they want to spend their time. No angels are dying 😉 I think independently produced Podcasts need to keep stepping it up by creating content rich shows if they want to stay ahead of mainstream corporations.
As a huge fan of listening to Podcasts, all I want is great content. Whether it’s from the American Copywriter guys, NPR or Scotiabank.
And now for the sales pitch: this is exactly the type of stuff I will be discussing next Thursday at the AIMS Canada – Association of Internet Marketing and Sales event, Should Your Company Be Podcasting? with my presentation: “Podcasting- The Audience Is Listening… The Audience Is Creating.” There are also a couple of seats still open for Geek Dinner Toronto IV. If you’re in Toronto on Thursday, January 25th, 2007 – please come on down and we can hang out.
(special thanks to Rob Hyndman for inspiring these thoughts).


  1. I should have know that you were behind the Scoticast, Mitch – they are *way* ahead of the other banks on this and it’s a great idea.
    I do think iTunes should make some effort to promote indy content though – perhaps its own channel – not sure. That iTunes real estate is starting to look awfully valuable.

  2. I remember thinking at some point, shit, the Internet seems to be getting smaller. And then came the blogosphere, which seemed to expand it again, and then podcasts etc.
    I don’t think the issue is the big fish living in the same pond as the little fish. I think though, what Rob has identified, is a trend that will continue until the water becomes infested with Sharks. And then what do you get? Dying Angels (…and mixed metaphors).

  3. Independent music, film and art is alive and well (and probably doing better because of the Internet – think MySpace).
    Maybe this time it will be different?
    We can’t afford to lose any more Angels 🙂

  4. I can’t say that I’m convinced, Mitch. Consumers may be smarter these days, but that doesn’t mean that the big media outlets can’t flood the internet so that it’s like there’s 57 channels and nothing on.
    The thing is that the corporations are just getting started. In a year or two, you won’t be able to find a decent podcast unless you already have the URL. Indie podcasters do this kind of thing on their own free time. Companies, on the other hand, are hiring Viral marketers to devote their time to blogging and podcasting. I know because this is my job, and check out the job post at Stntdubl.
    It’s like how once one person starts advertizing, advertizing becomes a permanent part of the budget for everyone in the marketplace and, more importantly, part of competing.
    The net will be even easier than the airwaves to flood with crap.

  5. Thanks Chris.
    I think the big difference this time is that if a major company wants to Podcast the ground is equally flat for an independent content producer. If people don’t click to subscribe you won’t rise to the top of the Podcast chart. The content has to be there. The channel to produce it is fairly flat – which does level the playing field.
    I can’t get a show on NBC, but I can get a Podcast up on iTunes just as easily as NBC can.
    That’s a new paradigm.

  6. I think major corporations can only help develope podcasting. Surely, just the fact that such corporations are taking an interest in podcasting, shows just how powerful and ever-growing a media it is. Major corporation will promote their podcasts. This brings attention to podcasting as a whole. Without this inevitable step, podcasting would stay in a side stream that would never connect to the main stream. Its a fact of life and anyway, if podcasting does become so polluted with junk, a new source of independent thought will spring from somewhere to allow the intellectual scholars of the net air their views!

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