April 6th, 2006

Podcasting Is Still Just For Geeks

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If the low (conscious) adoption rate for RSS brings you down, then don’t look at the new Forrester study on podcasting (via Charlene Li) — the adoption rate for podcasting is a paltry 1%, i.e. podcasting is still just for geeks. And to make matters worse:

And when you include all of the people who are just interested or have used podcasts, they strongly favor listening to existing content like Internet radio or broadcast radio, not necessarily new content. (And for newspapers thinking about podcasting, putting print stories into audio format just ranked ahead of original content from bloggers) I think this has something to do with 1) original content just isn’t as well known; and 2) existing content benefits from users that simply want to time shift it.

A pessimist would say that this is evidence of the fundamental limitation of new digital content — just because anybody can create and broadcast audio (and video) doesn’t mean that mainstream audiences are going to have any reason to value it over content from “native” audio and video content creators.

This is like all the bloggers who wonder why nobody comes just because they build it.

As Charlene Li confesses:

Here’s my personal experience/confession. I subscribe to several podcasts, but eventually winnowed them down to just one, NPR’s On The Media.

The optimist would say, as Charlene does, “Podcasting will get easier and the content will get better, but it will all take time.”

The realist will realize that like Internet 1.0, the real promise of digital media and Web 2.0 won’t evolve quite as fast as the hype.

Comments (7 Responses so far)

  1. capture and and upload tools. Skype continues its infiltration of schools and workplaces, so conversation timeshifting and placeshifting makes podcasting and vlogging more relevant than ever. See also: The Social Software Weblog, Kevin 2.0,Publishing 2.0, Mark Evans, Investor Relations Blog, Guardian Unlimited, Good Morning Silicon Valley, Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim, Blogspotting, Bloggers Blog, InterMedia, Barnako.com, blackrimglasses.com, SeattlePI.com Buzzworthy

  2. [IMG Thumbnail for http://publishing2.com/2006/04/06/podcasting-is-still-just-for-geeks/

  3. John Paczkowski / Good Morning Silicon Valley: Podcasts are huge; it’s just the audience that’s tiny Jfurrier / PodTech.net: Forrester Report on Podcasting – Wrong Big Time Scott Karp / Publishing 2.0:Podcasting Is Still Just For Geeks Dominic Jones / Investor Relations Blog: Do we need earnings call podcasts? Jack Schofield / Guardian Unlimited: Forrester — just 1% use podcasts Heather Green / Blogspotting: Reality Check for Podcasting

  4. Forrester podcasting report. The line everybody jumped on was: Our survey showed that only 1% of online households in North America regularly download and listen to podcasts. This lead to statements such aspodcasting is still just for geeks for example. Over night, podcasting as a PR-tool becomes indefinitely harder to sell. Look at it other stats though: 3% of people 12-24 attribute reduced use of radio to listening to podcasts. Podcasting is beginning to show evidence of cannibalizing

  5. Podcasting (both making them and listening to them) is still out of reach for those who use dialup, and have no broadband available yet in their areas. That’s still a significant portion of internet users, tho I don’t have specifics at hand.

    I have yet to hear a podcast as I don’t have all day to download one, which is what it would take. Same with videos.

    When they’re available to everybody, that will be a different story, but meanwhile, Scott, I agree with you.

  6. I’ve been podcasting for over six months, have approximately 2,500 listeners and have never created an RSS enclosure. No one ever beat me up in school. And I have no idea what Web 2.0, memtrackers, Blog A-Listers or Attention Data are. Ajax is some kind of kitchen product and a geek is someone who illegally eats live chickens in a carnival. Why would I want to use something in beta and wind-up borking my PC? I suppose I just don’t fit the typical podcaster profile.

  7. [...] Blog community response: “I completely respect Forrester as a research entity and while I can’t back up my opinions here with hard cold facts, my gut tells me that they’re way off on this one. Of course, as a podcast listener and co-host, I could be biased.” –Kevin 2.0 “I’m just not sure that the self-produced podcast shows will see the kind of growth I once expected.” –Marketing Pilgrim “The realist will realize that like Internet 1.0, the real promise of digital media and Web 2.0 won’t evolve quite as fast as the hype.” –Publishing 2.0 [...]

  8. [...] On her blog, Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li reports the findings of recent research into podcasting, and the news isn’t good for investors who have rushed into the nascent audio medium. Only 1 percent of Internet-using household regularly download and listen to podcasts — audio files designed for easy playback on PCs or portable MP3 players like Apple’s (Research) iPod. More significantly, only one out of four users surveyed expressed any interest in listening to podcasts, and only eight percent of those people expressed any interest in listening to amateur podcasts. The vast majority of podcast listeners — like Forrester’s Li herself — prefer listening to existing audio content like NPR, using podcasts like the audio equivalent of a VCR to shift their listening to a more convenient time. Blogger Amit Agarwal says that the podcasting bubble has burst, and Publishing 2.0 says that even though new software tools make podcasts easy for anyone to produce, there’s no compelling reason for mainstream audiences to start tuning in. For his part, blogger (and podcaster) Kevin Tofel says hedoesn’t believe Forrester’s numbers. [...]

  9. [...] Rex Hammock, who writes over at rexblog.com, is a pretty sharp guy. Amid all the discussion of the report from Forrester about the uptake for podcasting – which Forrester analyst Charlene Li wrote about on her blog – there is plenty of sound and fury, signifying little. Some are outraged that podcasting is being dismissed so easily, with just 1 per cent of people saying they download or listen to podcasts. Others say podcasting is a fad that has already come and gone, and is only for geeks, as my friend Scott Karp argues. [...]

  10. [...] Publishing 2.0 says that “Podcasting Is Still Just For Geeks”: http://publishing2.com/2006/04/06/podcasting-is-still-just-for-geeks/ Are hitting a podcasting backlash? [...]

  11. [...] to Jump on the Podcasting Bandwagon by Mark Evans on Thu 06 Apr 2006 03:11 PM EDT  |  Permanent Link  |  Cosmos If all goes well, I’m going to launch a weekly podcast with National Postcolleague Kevin Restivo tomorrow. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for awhile but…well, you know….life gets busy and the next thing you know, another week has passed. If anyone has any suggestions on what makes for a good podcast in terms of format, content, etc., please send them along. Given my plans, it is somewhat disconcerting to read Forrester analyst Charlene Li’s post that only 1% of North American households regularly download and listen to podcasts. If the audience is that small, why bother? Okay, that’s totally dismissive – and tongue in cheek – but she does raise some valid points. Among them are that consumers aren’t aware of original, new content. That said, Forrester expects the number of households downloading podcasts will climb to 12.3 million by 2010 from 700,000 in 2006 as podcasting “gets easier and the content gets better”. Andy Beal’s take – Podcasting. R.I.P.? – on podcasts is the content isn’t high enough quality, which has prompted him to give them up completely.Update: Not surprisingly, Li’s 1% “solution” is being savaged within the blogosphere. For some lively conversation, check out PodTech, which wonders what planet Li’s living on; Scott Karp, who cautious people to be more patient, and Mathew Ingram, who suggests people look down the road rather than the here and now. [...]

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