Podcasting – You're Listening… You're Really, Really Listening

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By the looks of this news item from eMarketer: Heard The Latest About Podcasting? it seems like Consumer adoption to audio Podcasts is definitely on the rise. The news is based on the recently issued eMarketer report, Podcast Audience: Seeking Riches In Niches, and the numbers are looking good. According to the report, "the total US podcast audience reached 18.5 million in 2007. Furthermore, that audience will increase by 251% to 65 million in 2012. And of those listeners, 25 million will be ‘active’ users who tune in at least once a week."

I’d be curious to see how this compares to video Podcasts.

Here’s the "why this is happening" according to eMarketer:

– Greater ease of consumption for podcast content.

– Growing awareness of podcasting.

– Terrestrial radio’s use and promotion of podcasting.

– Increased penetration of portable players.

– The evolution of smart phones and proliferation of affordable mobile data plans.

The other major point (that I knew, but seems to be forgotten by the general public):

"’No one will argue that mobile devices and communication are becoming widespread,’ says Mr. Verna. ‘Even so, the majority of podcasts are actually experienced on PCs, not portable devices.’

The situation might change in time, but for now podcasts are mainly a desktop phenomenon as opposed to a mobile or portable one."

I’ve heard numbers as large as seventy-percent of all audio Podcasts are enjoyed on a desktop.

While this is good news for Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast, one of the main reasons I think the numbers are looking so good is that the majority of people who try Podcasting have a hard time going back to more traditional media channels. The RSS subscription delivers content as soon as it’s produced. Consumers can then time-shift all they want, and transfer the media from device to other media – pause, rewind, fast-forward and delete. Plus, the content is, typically, very niche and targeted. No matter what your interests are, there is a Podcast on that topic. The ability to create your own media playlist adds to the sexiness. It’s an addictive and powerful media channel.

Podcasting is just getting started – at least, that’s what these numbers scream to me. And even in the "just getting started" phase, it’s sexy. Apple has sold over one hundred million iPods with no let-up in sight. It’s the fast selling electronics device of all time.

Keep listening.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Mitch. I immediately wondered if the medium is also a factor. I think it could be argued that audio offers the consumer a product with more richness than than does the printed word alone. I guess that is perhaps why you ask about the future of video podcasting? Regardless, very interesting data.

  2. Mitch,
    You highlight many valid points. I think regardless of whether people are tuning into podcasts on their portable devices or on their PCs, the rise of podcasts, as you pointed out, is due to one major benefit – timing.
    Society is moving at a faster pace than ever. So if consumers can be updated with information from podcasts based on their own clock without having to move from their computer, it will increasingly become the favoured vehicle of information.
    As per Michael’s comment, I agree. Audio does offer more richness, but also, it can be argued that it is because information is absorbed faster than print. However, I do believe that print offers a depth of information which is somewhat lost in the podcast medium.
    Although these days, who has time for depth?

  3. Hey Mitch, I think you are right on target once again in your analysis. To play off your reference to 100 million iPods sold: I believe podcasts will ultimately replace mix-CDs as the main promotional vehicle for DJs and niche music labels, and eventually for tech-savvy musicians and producers who want to connect with their audiences regularly and directly. Simply put, the free subscription model can’t be beat, especially when combined with the portability factor. And just think of all the toxic laminates and plastic that podcasting eliminates! David Suzuki would be proud.

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