Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Podcasting Goes Mainstream

MARCH 4, 2009

The pods have arrived.

Podcasting was born of the collision between social media and the iPod. Or, as Wired described it in a March 2005 article, “the bastard offspring of the blog and the Apple MP3 player.”

Back then podcasting was the domain of a few tech aficionados who saw it as a cheap and easy outlet to broadcast their views. All they needed was a microphone, some off-the-shelf software, and an installed base of iPod owners and Web surfers.

But things have changed.

“Today, the vast majority of the top-rated podcasts come from recognizable media entities that are using podcasts to expand their existing radio, TV, cable or satellite audiences,” says Paul Verna, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, Podcasting: Into the Mainstream.

The podcast audience has grown, too, and eMarketer projects that growth will continue at least through 2013, when there will be 37.6 million people downloading podcasts on a monthly basis, more than double the 2008 figure of 17.4 million.

As a percentage of Internet users, podcast downloaders will grow from 9% in 2008 to 17% in 2013.

US online buyers who purchase mostly online showed an even greater propensity to listen to podcasts. Some 50% of mostly online buyers in a survey said they listened to podcasts—a far greater number than comparable percentages of Internet users or consumers as a whole.

As for who is doing the downloading, a Pew Internet & American Life Project demographic profile of US adult Internet users who downloaded podcasts showed that they skewed male and young. The group ages 18 to 29 had the highest representation of podcast downloaders. Rates of podcast downloading steadily decreased for older age groups.

“The popularity of podcasts has created an environment in which increasing numbers of media companies are repurposing content from their radio or TV broadcasts as podcasts, and audiences have responded favorably,” says Mr. Verna. “This shift has resulted in the evolution of podcasting from a long-tail medium to a Web 2.0 extension of popular, traditional media.”

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