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As money, ears follow podcasting, how will broadcasters react?

Posted on: 02/08/2008

Analysts like eMarketer predict podcasting is ripe for its big break into the mainstream. If so, commercial and public broadcasters alike will need to address how their audiences are adopting the technology.

The study says that the U.S. podcast audience, checking in at 18.5 million listeners in 2007, is poised to grow by 251% to 65 million in the next four years. Nearly half of those listeners will be “active” (listening least one time a week).

After a few years of varied enthusiasm and speculation about the format’s potential, could this be the type of growth needed to push podcasting into the mainstream?

Maybe, but the popularity would probably come at the expense of the traditional broadcast radio model. At least that’s part of the argument on Long Tail author Chris Anderson’s latest blog post as he considers the impact of podcasting on his own personal radio listening habits.

Particularly during fundraising season, Anderson notes, he has taken to downloading and listening only to his preferred NPR programming. In the process, he says, he can spare himself the local jocks’ jabbering while cutting out the programming he’s not interested in.

The result? More money donated to NPR (but less to the local affiliates). [Hear 2.0 Mark Ramsey has a good dissection of the repercussions for NPR re: the same Anderson blog post here.]

Ad money to sweeten the deal

According to the eMarketer report, “spending on podcast-related advertising (including sponsorships) will rise to $435 million in 2012, up from $165 million in 2007.”

An influx of ad cash and the whatever innovations emerge from an increasingly WiFi’ed portable player market should continue to ramp up podcasting’s (or a similar tech’s) prominence within the mainstream broadcasting community.

And if Anderson’s behavior is any sign, consumers may be putting such a high premium on what they don’t want to listen to that the medium could be cultivating intense listener loyalty, but only to segments of programming instead of the whole brand.

Should a breaking point level of radio listeners adopt podcasting (some, presumably, to avoid numerous and extended commercial breaks on broadcast radio), advertisers will no doubt follow.

An audience of nearly 30 million active podcast listeners is nothing to scoff at. Perhaps this big, new, and enthusiastic audience would push broadcasters and content producers to either target their programming more towards niche audiences, or simply raise the bar on the quality of their programming.
Either way, broadcasters would be smart to be ready to package their content for podcast use — as listeners and advertisers demand. It would be a win for the consumer, and a win for podcasting at-large.

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  1. Podcasting is becomming mainstream because podcasters are broadcasting what “ more of the public “ wants to listen to, whither it be talk or music. “ radio “ was and still is too busy talking to listen and i believe it is now TOO LATE

    Daryl Quintanilla · Feb 9, 01:18 PM · #

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