April 6th, 2006

Podcasting Is Still Just For Geeks


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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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