My first view of podcasting was simple—much ado over not much. How could an iPod change radio’s decades old methods? Answer? Easy.
For some on the Mac360 staff, Podcasts are still much ado over not much but the genie is out of the bottle. I’m of the view that Podcasting is here to stay, and will continue to gain market share and increased usage.
The reason is simple. Content and control. It’s what we want to do. Podcasting and iPods give us control to more content.
My expertise in all things Mac and media may not be at the same level as Ron or Bambi, but I’ve been a Mac user nearly as long, an iPod user nearly as long, and I pay attention to trends.
The iPod phenomenon is like that of VHS players and tapes, CDs and player, and DVDs and players. It’s growing rapidly, but there are differences. Distinct differences.
iPods are the whole shebang. Audio, video, portability, good quality, very easy to use; perhaps easier than a DVD or video tape player.
While the original iPod and iTunes and iTunes Music Store trio were music only, Apple’s foray into video opened up a whole new world.
Just as we collected music on our PCs and transferred same to our iPods for portable music enjoyment, so the same is taking place with video and the new generation of iPods with video.
Stuck somewhere in between is the explosive trend of Podcasting. Here’s the formal definition from WikiPedia:
“Podcasting is the method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio programs or music videos, over the Internet using either the RSS or Atom syndication formats, for playback on mobile devices and personal computers.”
Podcasts are easy and inexpensive to produce, both audio and video, thanks to Apple’s iLife suite of applications, especially GarageBand for audio, iMovie for video.
Podcasts easy and inexpensive to distribute, too, via RSS and a web site.
There are a dozen or so excellent applications to help you produce and distribute podcasts, in audio or video form. Apple makes it easier than ever with iTunes which automatically download podcasts and sync them with your iPod.
Why would I think something so cool could be much ado over not much? At first, I thought podcasting to be nothing more than a fad. After all, radio and TV stations broadcast to millions of listeners and viewers. Podcast downloads are considered successful with just a few thousand regular downloads.
At first, production values (the overall quality of the audio and video production) was almost laughable when compared with standard broadcast productions, radio or TV.
That’s changed as both the tools used to create podcasts have improved, and podcasters have become more savvy producers, with more focused content.
At first, I couldn’t think of a good reason to collect podcasts and listen to a snipet of audio that was just a few minutes long. That changed with NPR’s move to podcasting.
I love some of National Public Radio’s broadcasts but cannot always manage to listen according to their broadcast schedule, even with repeats. Podcasting changes the nature of audio and video listenership and viewership.
It’s now on my terms. I can listen to what I want, when I want. With video, it’s the same thing; I can watch what I want, when I want. With both, and an iPod, it’s also where I want.
That’s the secret of success and why podcasting and the iPod are making an impact on the broadcast community.
One of our favorite Mac sites is MacDailyNews which highlighted a Nielsen survey about podcasting.
At the bottom of the article was a link to a PDF file with the gory details. In summary, nearly seven-percent of the US adult online population has downloaded a podcast. That number has increased as the number of iPod owners has increased.
Podcasting is hot among the young, on-the-go web user, while video podcast users tend to be a little older.
What’s the effect of all this on radio and TV? Many radio stations are creating daily podcasts of various programs, and TV shows are increasingly made available for download via Apple’s iTunes Music Store.
While a TV show on your iPod isn’t a true podcast, the trend is the same—increased usage. Podcasting is hot, but is it worthwhile? Is it fair to compare a few thousand downloads of a popular podcast with a radio or TV stations audience of hundreds of thousands or millions of viewers? No.
Podcasting is merely a new technology which we now use to change our listening and viewing habits, by shifting the scheduled broadcast to a personally flexible time.
Even better, the actual content of a typical podcast can be of a nature that would not normally be produced for broadcast television. Podcasting is here to stay but may continue to undergo changes as the iPods evolve and penetrate other markets.
What about you? Do you have a favorite audio podcast? How about a favorite video podcast? Do you use your iPod for music only, or have you ventured into video, too? Are Podcasts worth your time and effort, or, as Bambi and Alex and Kate are fond of telling me, “much ado over not much?”
Share your perspective with other readers in the Mac360 Comments section below.