There’s buzz and activity around podcasting these days. Podcasting isn’t new, but I think it’s become reinvigorated of late with a few players moving things forward. Organized access to content that makes it easier for listeners and producers to connect and easier for advertisers to purchase and track ads, is the force behind this new momentum.
A key company in the space is Podcast One, owned by Norm Pattiz. Founder of Westwood One, Pattiz has the know-how to build a content network, and he’s now applying that skill, and his relationships with celebs, to build a network of podcasts. Launchpad Digital Media is a sister company that sells ads for the network. According to a recent article in Bloomberg News, Podcast One hosts 200 shows in its network and averages 100 million downloads a month.
There are other players in the space as well — Earwolf is a comedy network that also offers producers the tools they need to connect with advertisers through sister company The Midroll. WNYC in New York offers a substantial suite of downloadable audio including Freakonomics hosted by author Stephen Dubner, Radiolab, and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin. Stitcher’s been around for a few years, organizing access to content and offering a mobile app that has been downloaded 12 million times, and is integrated with several car manufacturers and both IOS and Android phones.
Meanwhile, the elephant in the room when it comes to podcast networks is iTunes, which offers a huge library of downloadable audio but no monetization opportunities for the producers. Which creates a nice opportunity for the other companies who are willing to figure out the measurement and monetization piece.
We’ll be discussing that aspect of podcasting, and a lot more at RAIN Summit NYC on February 5th in New York City on a panel called “The Download on Podcasts.”
The all new RAIN News site has launched, and I’m sure you will want to check it out and then use your social media tools to tell your friends about it. There’s a new url, a new site, and a lot more content there which will be updated throughout the day.
It was bound to happen. Adam Carolla, whose standalone podcast project consistently ranks multiple shows in the iTunes top ten audio podcasts, will join a late night video block of programming on AOL that will, no doubt, extend his reach and build his brand while contributing to increased audience and revenue for them as well.
Last week AOL announced a new late night video block of programming featuring content from “The Adam Carolla Show,” ”Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show,” and Kevin Smith’s SModcast Network. Fans will be able to both hear and see the best moments from these popular podcasts and talk shows on a nightly basis exclusively on AOL.com.
This move will feature weekly highlights from ACE Broadcasting’s “The Adam Carolla Show,” where the celebrated author of the bestselling In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks interviews celebrities, athletes and other persons of note. That programming will be paired with highlights from Kevin Smith’s Smodcast Podcast network, and Kevin Pollack’s weekly video show Kevin Pollack’s Chat Show.
Carolla, Pollack and Smith will each maintain their own online presence and continue producing their programming. AOL will feature highlights, and no doubt extend their reach. When I checked, Carolla had 3 podcast shows in the top ten audio podcasts on iTunes, with another at number 11. His show has seen over 50 million downloads, making him the most popular audio podcast of all time. Pollack and Smith are video guys. Pollack produces a weekly video show that airs on sunday nights and is available on YouTube and iTunes. Smith’s Smodcast Podcast network is a veritable treasure trove of creative online content.
Carolla’s been an advocate of podcasting, but he’s made no bones about the fact that the revenue wasn’t rushing through the door. I’m sure this deal offers him a better financial outlook. AOL meanwhile, sees the opportunity that popular content on iTunes can offer in terms of building a network. Their ability to offer a revenue solution to independent content creators is a win for them and the talent.
70 million Americans have listened to or watched a downloaded podcast, according to a recently updated report by Edison Research: The Current State of Podcasting. That’s 23% of the population, a number that’s increased just one percent from a year ago.
Awareness of podcasting is sitting steady at 45%, up just slightly from last year’s 43%. That’s not the kind of growth that inspires hope that the medium will spread like wildfire. Podcast listening and/or viewing just hasn’t gone mobile – 71% of people who listen to podcasts do so on their desktop and that number has actually increased from last year, according to the study.
So while cell phone usage has soared, podcasting usage has gotten stuck on the desktop, which is one possible explanation for the stagnant growth of the audience. Smartphone streaming has made downloading audio files for listening on mobile phones unnecessary.
It looks like streaming is taking a bite out of podcasting at this point. Online radio’s audience is 70 million monthly (Arbitron/Edison’s Infinite Dial Study).
Podcast consumers tend to be early adopters and social networkers, according to the study. They tend to respond to sponsor ads – 71% said they had visited a website because of an ad they had seen or heard in a podcast.
With wifi and 3G, and soon 4G access more readily available to consumers who want to stream and listen on demand, it’s looking more and more like podcasting is an interim audio technology that has limited long term audience growth because it’s replaceable by audio streaming.
Podcast network Wizzard Media reports that 3rd quarter was a record breaking one for them, with 445 million podcasts downloaded in the 3 months. Wizzard provides hosting, ad serving tools, measurement and monetization services to more than15,000 podcast shows. Most of that is episodic programming, so the actual number of available podcast shows for download is well over a million.
The record breaking traffic came in the summer months, when listening generally slows. “We attribute this surge to the continued success of Apple’s products, the expansion of Wizzard’s App product and the growth of the audience that has access to podcasts via iTunes.” said Chris Spencer, Wizzard Media CEO.
In fact, 65% of the podcasts they host are downloaded via iTunes, while other Zune and Blackberry are the other major vehicles. In addition, Wizzard offers an embeddable player that makes it easy for listeners to download podcasts directly.
They’re in the business of helping people make a business out of podcasting – Wizzard sells podcast hosting and ad serving solutions to content providers and also offers them revenue sharing opportunities.
So what are people listening to? Top podcasts on the network include Adam Carolla, English as a Second Language Podcast, Learn French, Smodcast, Joe Rogan, Mark Maron and Grammergirl. Education, music and comedy genres dominate the top 20. Top shows are seeing millions of downloads a month.
Ad sales are mostly based on cpms and range, according to Rob Walch, VP Podcaster Relations from $2 for remnant to $45-$50 for certain programs (Wow!) Their advertiser list includes Ford, Coca-cola, Amazon owned Audible, Subway, Netflix, JC Penney and others. Wizzard uses Nielsen Net Ratings for 3rd party verification of ad impressions, an important piece for agency sales.
Podcasting is growing at Wizzard Media – they’ve watched downloaded podcasts move from 1.1 billion in 08 to 1.4 billion in 09 to 1.8 billion (approx) this year. What’s not to like about that?
My inbox is full of Google Alerts on Podcasting, thanks to an announcement by Volomedia that they have been granted a patent entitled “Method for Providing Episodic Media.” According to the press release, the “patent covers the fundamental mechanisms of podcasting, including providing consumer subscription to a show, automatically downloading media to a computer, prioritizing downloads, providing users with status indication, deleting episodes, and synchronizing episodes to a portable media device.”
The company filed a patent claim in 2003, “almost a year before the start of podcasting. This helps underscore the point, that for nearly six years, VoloMedia has been focused on helping publishers monetize portable media…. and has continued these efforts with the addition of a wide array of smartphone-based applications.” (from a blog post on their site)
This announcement has generated quite a bit of skepticism by folks wondering if anyone should be able to lay claim to such a broad method of content delivery. Without contributing to the controversy, I’ll add some facts that I have read in various articles on the topic. According to Contentinople’s Ryan Lawler, Volomedia’s CEO Navar notes that Apple, which helped popularize podcasts through its iTunes music store, didn’t add podcasting to its media application until 2005.
Navar told Ars Technica that “Our focus is to generate revenues through our products and technologies.” “VoloMedia is not entertaining or pursuing any licensing conversations… VoloMedia’s main intent is to continue to work collaboratively with key participants in the industry, leveraging its unique range of products to further grow and accelerate the market, not introduce new impediments.”
Volomedia is not a so-called patent troll company, in the business of scooping up potentially lucrative patents and then licensing them to potential infringers. Rather, the company has been in the business of podcasts for a while and it has a long list of clients that includes MSNBC, ABC, Fox News, Slate, Scientific American, Public Radio International. Sounds like that list may get a lot longer…