Earlier this week I reported on statistics from the upcoming Arbitron/Edison Internet and Multimedia 2007 report. Despite a healthy upswing in people who had heard of podcasting (37% up from 22% in 2006), there was only small incremental increase in the number of people who have ever listened to a podcast (13% up from 11% last year). I’d like to offer further insight and information and then get some feedback on this matter.
So what does this mean? I choose to see this as the end of a quick uptake of podcasting by early adopters and the beginning of a hill that needs to be surmounted. There are two things that we need to help us bust through this apparent plateau:
1. Better education of the audience
Many people still think you need an iPod or other MP3 player to listen to podcasts. For that matter, many think that Apple invented it. People need to know that a podcast is really nothing more than portable, on-demand, digital (oh wait…look at that…P.O.D.) content. We need to emphasize the benefits of podcasting: time-shifted, niche content, listen when you want and listen where you want.
2. Creation of better, easier-to-use solutions
Podcasts need to be much easier to find, subscribe to and consume. We need better solutions. Right now iTunes is the most frictionless solution for finding and subscribing to podcasts. This only contributes to the misconceptions I pointed out above. In addition, there are a lot of things that iTunes could do better. We need a viable competitor to iTunes since competition only helps push innovation. I’m not sure who that could be, but it’s needed.
Tom Webster, who presented the stats in London, offers some great insights.
On the other hand, this is 13% of America we are talking about–and while I am not…yet…at liberty to release the percentage of Americans this year who subscribe to Satellite Radio, it is pretty close. So, on the one hand, growth is relatively small, but on the other, podcasting has acheived a similar penetration to Satellite Radio, without the benefit of a honkin’ big marketing campaign, Howard Stern, or Oprah.
So podcasting has an audience that rivals satellite.
Consumer-controlled content is clearly the future for both audio and video, and podcasting, by whatever name you choose to call it, is the precursor to that vision of the future. But realizing that vision takes vision–and persistence. If you think podcasting isn’t “broken,” think on these graphs again…Somewhere, though, somebody will see this data for what it is–a challenge to work harder, to claim the greater prize. Some of you reading this will do the work to make podcasting different, and better, than it is today–and those people have the opportunity to reap great rewards.
Very well put. And with that…what do you think? What do these numbers mean for podcasting?