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?
Digital music buzz is all about cloud based streaming services these days. Apple bought Lala and Microsoft launched a new “entertainment vertical” for Bing that ties in full song streaming from Zune. Two weeks ago HP acquired Melodeo. And Google is supposedly readying a mobile music platform that will launch with Android 3 and include anywhere access, paid downloads and subscription aspects. The big tech companies seem to be scrambling to gain position in the cloud based streaming music space.
Meanwhile Forrester has released a report that finds that cloud based streaming on mobile devices is still more buzz than reality. The new study “360 Music Experiences: Use the Cloud to Target Device Use Orbits” focuses on the impact that cloud based services have on the devices consumers choose to listen on. 41.6% of Adults 18+ are still tied to their pc as their primary source of digital music. MP3 players ranked second at 32.5%, music-enabled phones at 12.1% and home streaming devices at 11.1%. Mobile access to music services through smartphone apps, while certainly an area of great activity, has yet to have a substantial impact.
Keep in mind that these findings are based on 3Q 2009 data, and many (but not all) cloud based services are either still in the works or have launched since then. But the report expects listeners to stick with a device of choice for cloud based streaming even with the option to listen anywhere on any connected device.
In addition to the question of what device listeners choose to listen with, there’s the issue of how the space will monetize. MOG, Rhapsody, Rdio, and others are betting on a subscription model that enables listeners to pay a monthly fee for on demand streaming. MSpot and MP3tunes offer storage space or “music lockers” for your personal music collection – free for small amounts of storage, monthly fees for larger amounts. Google will likely pursue an ad based strategy in keeping with its other platforms, while Apple may create a hybrid that expands on its iTunes (pay for downloads) brand, and incorporates its new mobile ad platform iAds.
Big news for HD Radio this week is that it’s available on iPhone. While the HD Radio app for iPhone is free, listening requires the purchase a Gigaware HD Radio receiver accessory, which costs $80 and is only available at Radio Shack.
In this interview with wsj.com, iBiquity chief executive Bob Struble mentions that first HD Radio went portable with Microsoft’s Zune, and now extends its mobile offerings to Apple’s incredibly popular iPhone. In addition to being able to listen to your favorite stations digitally, the app enables you to tag songs that you hear and like for future purchase.
HD is simply a brand name for the digital upgrade to AM and FM, says Struble. AM/FM is the last analog medium in the US, and HD is the digital version of those offerings.
The question is, will listeners adopt the new HD technology and move to HD devices and listening, or will they shift directly to an alternative like Internet radio? Streaming Pandora, for example, is free for everyone on iPhone. The reason to purchase the HD Radio iPhone accessory, according to Struble, is that it will allow listening to HD Radio stations on your iPhone even when you don’t have a wifi connection. (but your purchase of the iPhone required you to pay for a monthly data plan that gives you unlimited broadband…)
He hopes they will convince Apple to build HD Radio receivers directly into iPhones and iPod Touch devices, which would eliminate the need for additional hardware. It sounds far fetched to me, but a while back I was betting against FM on iPhones…
Last week there was lots of industry buzz about Microsoft’s Zune adding HD Radio technology. Broadcasters saw this move as 1) an indication of growing interest in HD Radio technology, and 2) as a move that would help raise awareness and build audience for HD Radio. While the move may very well build audience, the Microsoft Zune isn’t exactly flying off the shelves and it won’t be the savior for digital radio. As I wrote in an article last week, Zune and HD Radio are kind of made for each other – both are weakish technologies that aren’t cutting it against competing alternatives.
This week’s big news is that Apple will not follow Microsoft’s lead and put an FM radio in the new iPhone. Why would they? Apple is all about the Internet. They sell music via the Internet, and watched a streaming radio app (Pandora) reach the top position as the most popular iPhone app last year. Pandora’s iPhone app is selling lots of music downloads as well.
I doubt that Apple’s wireless partner AT&T, and soon other carriers are very interested in FM Radio capabilities. They want people loving their mobile broadband connectivity. This new iPhone will have faster connections, a video camera, and – my favorite – a fingerprint resistant case.
I worry that the stories reporting that Apple’s not building FM radio into the new iPhone are indicators of the kind of blind, wishful thinking that broadcasters have engaged in for too long already. Getting HD Radio onto Microsoft’s Zune was a nice win, but I don’t think it’s an indicator that digital radio is about to take off.
Apple isn’t about to put an FM tuner on the iPhone, HD Radio isn’t about to take off, and Internet radio is where it’s at. Broadcasters that can focus on that fact are the ones that will flourish.