New York Public Radio is setting the standard for excellent online content creation these days with a slew of interesting, high quality new programs. Some, such as Radiolab, rank in the top ten most downloaded podcasts on iTunes, while others offer a remarkable host of guests and really great content that other broadcasters would do well to take a look at.
While there’s often debate about the quality of broadcasters’ online content offerings, such is not the case at WNYC.org. Each week, Alec Baldwin hosts Here’s The Thing, a weekly talk show in which Baldwin interviews well known and interesting people such as Billy Joel, George Will, David Letterman, Peter Frampton, Herb Alpert, Kathleen Turner – the list is interesting and impressive, as is the show.
WNYC also produces and airs Radiolab – the podcast of that program ranks third in the iTunes list of most downloaded podcasts. The show is so popular they even charge $2.99 for their mobile app. All of the programming that WNYC creates also becomes part of the NPR portfolio of content, along with content created by other stations such as All Things Considered, This American Life and Morning Edition.
It’s not news that NPR does an excellent job offering excellent news and talk programming to its audience. It’s an impressive online offering that would challenge anyone’s idea that podcasting is dead. As NPR could tell you, it’s alive and well on their platform…
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?
Radio is well positioned for a transition to a digital future, according to a new study by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism. Radio has the ability to maintain and grow its audience through several digital audio platforms and is doing a better job than other traditional media such as television, newspapers and magazines.
Radio is on its way to becoming a new medium called Audio, according to this study. Listeners are tuning in via many channels including Internet radio, podcasts and satellite radio, which are contributing audience growth. Not all newer digital audio technologies are growing audience however — the study notes that HD Radio continues to struggle both with the lack of audience and a static number of stations converting to the HD platform of delivery.
Radio is experiencing an “intriguing fragmentation” across other audio platforms, which are also providing broadcasters with opportunities to grow revenue. Over the next five years, Internet radio and mobile revenues will continue to increase.
The main focus of the study is the impact of new media on news, and the appetite for radio news is dropping on AM/FM stations. But 24% of adults 18+ indicated they had listened to a newscast online – either streamed or downloaded. A stated conclusion is that the slow increase in online listening corresponds to a simultaneous loss of broadcast radio audience.
All of this emphasizes the wisdom of broadcasters who are distributing their audio content across multiple channels. It’s more important than ever to strategically develop a diverse digital audio platform that feeds the digital audio audience’s diverse appetite.
It happens – radio stations change formats and suddenly popular personalities are out of a job. And Arbitron’s new PPM audience measurement technology has caused station owners to take a harsh look at what’s working and what’s not. But that’s not all bad for several displaced radio personalities who have found that podcasting is a great way to reconnect with their audience directly.
Early last year CBSRadio changed the format of LA’s KSLX to all hits, and radio personality Adam Carolla was out of a job. By March, he was producing shows for downloads and making the top ten on iTunes. And in September he announced a partnership with CBSRADIO that had them promoting the show, handling ad sales and letting Carolla program his own Web radio station.
In Chicago CBSRadio took Steve Dahl off the air, following some format shifts in that market. Not long later, he was producing daily podcasts, this time in partnership with CBSRadio from the get-go.
Now we have displaced DC dj Mike O’Meara, who lost his gig at CBSRADIO owned WJFK when they switched programming to Sports Talk, and is generating 15,000 downloads a day with his weekday show. (Which doesn’t involve CBSRADIO apparently)
It turns out, personality driven radio makes for perfect podcast content. Radio personalities have fans and followers with strong affinities for their shows, which means they’ll go to the extra effort to subscribe, download and listen loyally. Personality driven podcasts are a nice enhancement for radio broadcasters to offer their listeners. The nature of podcasting means those listeners are registered, so it’s easy to target ads to them, and they’re engaged and loyal, which makes them very appealing consumers for advertisers.
As radio stations begin to understand that their broadcast is simply one distribution channel for their content, more and more will create ways to extend relationships with long time radio personalities, even if they’re off the broadcast dial. Podcasts are a good place to start.
Um, Mr. O’Meara? CBSRADIO called while you were out…
The Association for Downloadable Media has released a study on Consumer Attitudes toward Podcast Advertising. Podcast consumers indicated that they listen to audio podcasts weekly and subscribe to several podcasts each week.
The ability to listen to the content whenever and wherever they want is important to them. These particular consumers also indicate a pretty low frequency of other mainstream media usage. Edison Research’s Tom Webster translates that to mean “A podcast advertising buy is not a redundant media buy for advertisers and marketers. These are attractive, affluent consumers that mass media is losing.”
They own mobile phones that can play audio files, and they listen on their phones. 9 out of 10 podcast consumers prefer advertising within the content to the idea of paying for their content through a subscription fee. However, when asked how they feel about those advertisements, only 2% said they liked them and found them useful. The majority either liked or didn’t like them and occasionally found them useful. They were more positive about sponsorship messages, 72% were either interested in them or didn’t mind them and occasionally found them useful; and 82% reacted that way to sponsorship mentions by program hosts.
A nice majority of podcast consumers indicated that they had taken action after hearing or seeing advertising in audio or video content, with 71% of respondents visiting a web site after hearing a message. Of course, this is not the response rate to any advertising, since these are behaviors that podcast consumers indicate they have ever done, not responses to every ad.
It’s an interesting study that could prove helpful in building value for advertising in podcast platforms. I have begun to wonder about the long term viability of podcasting as a mass appeal platform, as the content that I used to download onto my ipod is now available for on-demand streaming, so I no longer need to subscribe, download and transfer to my portable device. An approach that highlights the podcast population as an appealing group of consumers who are difficult to reach in other ways makes sense, and that’s what this study provides.
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…
A recent survey of Public Radio listeners found that 35% listen to Internet radio weekly or more. That number increases to 49% of listeners to Public Radio AAA formats. The same survey, conducted by Jacobs Media on behalf of NPR and Public Radio Programmers found that 41% of Public Radio listeners said they listen more because a station streams online, leading to a study observation that “Internet streaming is a significant activity & and plays a role in generating more listening – especially among AAA fans.”
The survey covers lots of information including demographics of Public Radio listeners by format, and their usage of newspapers, magazines, mobile devices and mp3 players, as well as their feelings about the economy. Some of the interesting conclusions made in the summary include:
AAA fans are younger, less “into” Public Radio exclusively & far more tech-active. They are more apt to own iPods, download podcasts, stream audio and video, text, and participate in social networking sites.
Interest in satellite radio is waning and it is not a threat.
While awareness of HD Radio is decent, adoption rates are low and so is satisfaction.
Public Radio listeners listen to podcasts as well – 54% said they had downloaded and listened to a podcast. 67% of those that had said they were either very or somewhat willing to see or hear a commercial.