Author Topic: is podcasting dead?  (Read 5231 times)

Offline bn

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is podcasting dead?
« on: August 10, 2012, 08:01:33 AM »
oh man,
some people say podcasting is dead.
I mean, i obviously love it.
but some people love horses, and they're a pretty rare way of getting to work.

seems to me that podcasting, as a medium is doing one of four things.

  • dead. it was a fad.
  • increasing in popularity. it's the radio of the future.
  • not dead, will never be mainstream popular, but still well liked. like HAM radio
  • a transient medium, like laserdisks or betamax. it's destined to be replaced by a different (more accessible) medium that does a similar thing.

so i'm not sure.
on the one hand, i like podcasting more than i like radio. and i love radio. but podcasting lets me choose the content, and lets me listen to what i'm interested as the mood takes me. i'm not constrained by geography to listen my favourite shows.

on the other hand, it's a pain in the ass to get into. you need to own a doodad that plays audio and gets on the internet conveniently (fairly common these days). THEN you need to figure out how to get the shows. THENN you need to choose shows that you'd like to listen to. that's a lot more steps than radio requires.

and one thing the radio has over podcasts is that there's ONE PLACE you go for all of the shows you might want to listen to (the physical radio and it's dial), and you can scan through them easily to help you choose. but there's no universal clearinghouse for podcasts. some are only available off the internet. others are on itunes. but itunes is getting a little less convenient, and their new podcasting app sucks. there are other places too, like stitcher! or the native blackberry podcast app. what's more, finding a podcast you like  is more like finding a book you like in a library. you can scan through books without taking them off the shelf and spending a little effort. ...
so it's inconvenient to get into it.

is podcasting dying?
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Offline Lynx Cat

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Re: is podcasting dead?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2012, 09:32:47 AM »
Man, the questions you're bringing here today... I don't see why people would say something like "podcasting is dead". Maybe it's those hipsters that say anything is dead and passé a week after it launches. I think the podcasting scene is just getting really started - it seems to me like it's growing in popularity (though I don't have any data to back that up), and the technical difficulties that make podcasts a pain in the ass sometimes should only decrease as technological evolution (mostly software in this case) makes creating media content and handling media online ever more accessible and streamlined. To me it's kind of a toss-up between 2 and 3 - it's growing in popularity, by strides, but I'm not sure whether it will grow to be as mainstream as radio. Maybe, maybe not. But dead? Not at all, IMO. And I don't see why it would ever need to be replaced by something else, improvements and other adjustments notwithstanding - though, to be fair, people rarely see that sort of thing coming beforehand in any case.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2012, 09:34:34 AM by Lynx Cat »
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Offline bn

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Re: is podcasting dead?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2012, 11:03:06 AM »
I'm currently watching a video called
"why podcasting is dead in the water"

so. I'm not sure if I know if podcasting is dead. I know that for something to die, something else must replace it.

but here are some indications i think are looking bad about podcasting.

1. podcasting is not "mainstream". listening requires, as i said, several steps. apple made an app to bring podcasting out of the itunes and into its own app on the ipods and iphones. this step *could* have made it mainstream, because these devices are so popular. *but* the app sucks. and it's not revolutionary in any way. it doesn't let you see reviews easily, and it doesn't display (in an intuitive way) a wide enough range of topics. so it'll be hard to easily find the types of shows you'd like to listen to (if you aren't already a listener). It's junky and worse than the itunes store. 

2. there's no way to easily make money.

3. after years of podcasts, some of whom are fairly successful, advertising is still a rare thing.

4. audio is not searchable.

5. the most popular podcasts are comedy podcasts.

here are some positive things, though, just so you don't think i'm a jerk.

1. ford is going to start (has already started) putting wifi in their cars. suddenly, podcasting can be like radio.

2. some popular podcasts are becoming TV shows.

3. Some podcasts are going pro. Jesse thorn's podcast network, for example.
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Offline Daneel

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Re: is podcasting dead?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2012, 11:23:24 AM »
I think it will never be mainstream. My feeling is that as some specific show becomes more popular, then it will be aired through the radio. That's what happens with The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, for example; I now you can listen to them in some XM radio or something like that. Big Picture Science (formerly Are We Alone), Skeptically Speaking... there a lot of popular podcasts that now are on the radio.

Think YouTube. It's inmensely popular but it's not mainstream at all. Most people still watch TV to get their news and watch movies, right? I think podcasting is going to be just another medium, but it won't replace mainstream radio. As you said, there's a lot of complications. It's a more active type of entertainment which require that you the listener chose what you want to listen to.


BTW. Ben, you complain about the hurdles involved in getting a podcast? I don't even have a mp3 player or phone with internet connection. I use Google Reader to download each episode manually and then transfer them to my phone.

Offline bn

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Re: is podcasting dead?
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2012, 11:39:32 AM »
BTW. Ben, you complain about the hurdles involved in getting a podcast? I don't even have a mp3 player or phone with internet connection. I use Google Reader to download each episode manually and then transfer them to my phone.

I mean, that's part of my point. what a hassle! to listen to the radio, you just have to twist 2 knobs. you could teach a monkey to listen to the radio.
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Offline bn

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Re: is podcasting dead?
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2012, 11:51:23 AM »
it's interesting that everyone uses the main stream media as the metric for success.

so we're saying "look, some podcasts can make it because they end up radio shows"

or "some online content became tv shows"

as if the broadcast media is the light at the end of the tunnel.

but i'm wondering whether broadcasting itself might be dying at the hands of the internet?

One thing we should keep in mind when it comes to media popularity is demographics.
and content-on-demand is the popular thing with people my age and younger.
I mean, it's almost the story of my generation, frankly.
and while people might think that youtube isn't mainstream,
i'd argue that it's super mainstream for the internet generation.
it's TV that's dying out.
how many people who are under 30 do you know who will watch tv and not surf the internet at the same time (providing that it's available to them)?

the popular TV series that everyone's talking about are being written for DVD sales, on demand tv, tivo and netflix rather than broadcast.

so a person could argue that podcasts are destined to kill radio in the end.

but there's one thing radio can give you which podcasts cannot: up to date local news.
and as long as no one knows how to make money off podcasts, no one will be able to publish news on this medium.

So in order for podcasting to move forward, it'll need money.
and in order to monetize the medium, you'll need advertising.
and in order to get advertising, you'll need an increase in popularity.
and in order to get more popular, you'll need a more convenient medium.

:(



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Offline Daneel

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Re: is podcasting dead?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2012, 12:20:11 PM »
Well, I'm not saying that those podcast are popular because they are on the radio. What I'm saying is that once a podcast becomes popular, it's likely to end up on the radio somehow.

Maybe I'm the wrong person to talk about this. In Argentina we are at least 10 years behind in technology and the lack of paypal (no need a credit card and cannot deposit or withdraw money through your bank) doesn't make things easier.
But, come on. You are the one that talks about having to explain people what a "podcast" is. My mother cannot even pronounce it!

I think podcast will need to evolve a lot to become truly mainstream. There has to be an easier way to subscribe and listen to them. There's got to be a way of embedding links in the audio track so you can surf the podcastphere from podcast to podcast.
I'm envisioning some kind of internet radio that you can listen in your car but that can also interact with your subscriptions so when you hear some program you like you can just press a button and subscribe. That would be a "Discover" channel. Then you have another channel with your personal subscriptions in which you can listen to new episodes of your favourite podcasts.

Also, the money issue it's a biggie.

Offline Daneel

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Re: is podcasting dead?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2012, 12:28:03 PM »
Another problem might be the actual format of the shows. In my experience, podcast are much shorter and much denser in content than radio shows. I don't know how they do it in Canada, but here popular radio shows are about 3 hours long and involve a lot of commercials, listener feedback, and goofing around. It's the type of content that you can half-listen while you're working or chatting with your girlfriend while drinking mate.
On the other hand, I've yet to listen to a podcast that lets me do that. Let's take a fine program like The Titanium Physicists. It packed with interesting content and cool bee analogies. You can't just stop paying attention while you do something else and then return and expect to understand what's going on. It's a much more involved process. 

Offline bn

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Re: is podcasting dead?
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2012, 02:38:36 PM »
oh yeah man,
titanium physicists is way too dense to listen to at work.

it's kind of made for times when you're busy but bored, like on the bus, or walking to work, or at the gym.

i'd never thought of the lazy pace as being a virtue of the radio format.
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Offline LukeSouthan

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Re: is podcasting dead?
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2012, 04:09:07 PM »
I don't think podcasting is dead, most popular radio shows in the UK seem to use podcasting and they all seem pretty popular, but I feel, like Daneel said, that it is a difficult format for anything that isn't pretty light. So with Titanium Physicists I have to actively find 30-50 minutes where I won't really do anything else. I think the only reason I ever gave it enough time to really come to enjoy it was I would put it on whilst revising because it was sciencey and it seemed a good way to take a break whilst keeping my brain ticking over in a place that doesn't have tv (my old apartment/the library)

I can watch a tv show whilst reading an article on the internet but I think perhaps as a sense my eyes will override my ears and put sound into the background when in reality with something like TP I need the sound to be the thing my brain is concentrating on the most but perhaps we haven't evolved to give precedence to information coming in through our ears when we are also actively taking in info through our eyes.

So I guess I find the major issue with podcasting is I can't multi-task listening to a podcast with anything other than the simplest of tasks (cycling to work, tidying up etc.). And i'm part of a generation that's grown up constantly doing at least two things at once, so if I had a movie on the tv i'd also be playing pokemon on my gameboy. Anything that doesn't allow for easy multi-tasking in your life is less acceptable nowadays and so it's harder for it to take off, BUT podcasting seems designed for people to have a podcast on whilst they're doing a load of work say, so people do that, get to the end and have a vague notion of enjoyment or not as the case may be but they won't get the required level of enjoyment because they were multi-tasking that leads to them repeating the experience.

Also yeah, with radio, most popular stations have incredibly short segments broken up by music that are always introduced when the music finishes (something your mind will notice) and is usually advertised a couple of times before it starts, prepping your brain that if it's going to interest you you will pay attention at a certain point, you never get a 20 minute segment on something with no breaks that you have to pay attention to the whole time to understand what is happening 15 minutes in. By it's nature that people can be tuning in at any point during the broadcast it has to be something constantly accessible so although it's an entertainment format based around speech I don't think the sort of podcasts you do and broadcast radio (other than documentaries/radio dramas) have any real comparability.

This has become a long and convoluted post so i'll just say (because most of that seems anti-podcast) I think podcasts have a place and I think when people of the ipod generation become more the people who have to get the train for 30 minutes to work everyday then podcasts might start to see a bigger boom.

Offline bn

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Re: is podcasting dead?
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2012, 04:39:44 PM »
fascinating!

yes, i agree with you,
although i find that with most podcasts that aren't as dense at ti-phy (which is quite dense)
i can usually multitask with.
i mean, who cares if i miss a point on the stuff you missed in history show.

i like the idea that old-fashioned radio will keep the format alive as a natural means of archiving and distributing their stuff. I got into listening to podcasts from the CBC, after all.

i'm sorry to have seemed so anti-podcast.
i am, after all, very much pro-podcast. but given the nature of this forum, i doubt that people will shine light on the side of the nay-sayers.

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Offline Daneel

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Re: is podcasting dead?
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2012, 07:00:00 PM »
Yeah. I'm not anti-podcast either! I don't think podcasting is dead, I just don't think it will become mainstream. Put me in the "not dead, will never be mainstream popular, but still well liked. like HAM radio" camp.

Offline jfpohl

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Re: is podcasting dead?
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2012, 03:27:28 PM »
I love listening to podcasting, but it is a niche audience.  Ben, dumb question here...  Can your podcast be used in your academic record under "teaching" or "outreach"?  I've always been curious about that. 
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Offline bn

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Re: is podcasting dead?
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2012, 07:12:50 PM »
I don't think you could call it teaching.
it's not like you're being payed or have any means of testing.

but yeah, i count it as outreach, and i tell my titanium physicists to do it as well.
in fact, since outreaching is an important part for applying for grants (well.. maybe not that important)
i tell them that it's good outreach when i pitch the show to them the first time i send an email asking them to participate.
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