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Is the podcast dead?

Is the podcast dead? And what is a podcast anyway? Back in 2005, the New Oxford American Dictionary hailed it as the Word of the Year and described it as a “digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player.” That definition has morphed, however, and now plenty of people view a podcast as both audio and video. It can either be a show with regular episodes, or a lecture or some other one-off event that is downloadable. But the question is, how many people are doing the downloading??

Wizzard Media proclaims podcasting to be “one of the fastest growing and widest distribution mechanisms in the history of media.” Of course, they have a vested interested in saying this, and we’ve heard it before. In March 2006 eMarketer said the “audience for podcasts has shown meteoric growth, particularly in the U.S. It is variously projected to reach between 20 million and 80 million by 2010.” Way to pin down that prediction, eh? A month later, Forrester predicted growth “from 700,000 households in the United States in 2006 to 12.3 million households in the United States by 2010.” That’s a big difference: 12.3 million vs. 80 million. The most trustworthy source, Pew Internet & American Life Project, reported in November 2006 that only 1% of Internet users report downloading a podcast on a typical day.

My quick Web search didn’t yield a lot of stats or reports on podcasting in 2007—perhaps the hype was dying down at this point? But a February 2006 eMarketer report estimated that the total U.S. podcast audience reached 18.5 million in 2007.

I’m pretty skeptical about a lot of these numbers and projections. But I am sure of one thing: Podcasting is still an inexpensive way for a company to get its message out, and the medium can help a company establish a personal, human connection to its clients and customers. And don’t forget that you can also post transcripts of podcasts. At Tendo, we often preach the idea of “write once, use many.” In this case, “record once, use many” is true, too. Julie Jares, managing editor

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February 29, 2008 Posted by | blog, Julie Jares, Mobile Content, Multimedia | Leave a comment