For years, people have been predicting the death of terrestrial radio. The advent of TV was going to kill it. Most recently, satellite radio and podcasts have been identified as the mediums that will ultimately put traditional radio to sleep. There’s evidence to support declining listenership, yet there is also evidence suggesting it’s as healthy as it’s always been. What isn’t debatable, however, is that podcasts have become increasingly popular. For example, FAB Universal, a worldwide distributor of digital entertainment, recently announced a quarter-over-quarter growth of 8 million podcast audience members in 240 countries. That’s pretty good, and there’s no reason to believe it’s going to slow down.
I’ve been a loyal terrestrial radio listener since I was a kid, yet over the last few years I’ve shifted almost exclusively to a consumption of digital media. I’m not interested in listening to Top 40 or any other music that’s forced into my ears – my iPod allows me to tune into the music I want to listen to, when I want to listen to it. The same goes for news or talk shows – I download and listen to podcasts. The only time I listen to traditional radio is in the morning, and that’s a rare time when I’ve only got a few minutes to catch the local news and weather before I leave the house. Even then, I’m more likely to get that information using my smartphone’s weather app and Twitter feed while running out to the car.
Podcasts are the future, but the future is just around the corner. If you’ve been thinking about creating your own podcast, here are just eight reasons why now is the time to start!
- The proliferation of handheld devices. Hundreds of millions of these devices have shipped and continue to be delivered into the hands of new owners around the world.
- Ease of use for consumers. I’ve been listening to podcasts for years now, and it’s quite remarkable how easy it’s become to find and listen to new material. Early on, if I wanted to listen to a podcast in my car I’d have to download the podcast on my desktop and sync my iPod to it. Now, most new handheld devices have a podcast listening app baked into the OS, which means millions of new devices now enable their users to be one click away from discovering or consuming podcasts.
- People want choice. Consumers want to listen to what interests them, not what radio programmers think they want to hear. And, both the quantity and quality of content continues to grow. There’s a lot more choice, and the choices are getting better. That equals more listeners tuning in and looking for content.
- Covenience. People want to listen to their content on their own time. I do most of my podcast listening when I run. Podcasts are also great to listen to when at the gym, commuting to and from work, doing the dishes, cutting the grass or going to sleep for the night. It’s the perfect multi-tasking companion.
- Binge listening. Once you discover a podcast you love, you can download the entire library or select only the episodes you’re interested in.
- Fewer annoying ads. Generally, there are fewer ads. No more listening to five consecutive ads while waiting for the news. The ads that exist on podcasts also tend to be more creative, often woven in with the main content. And, of course, listeners can skip through ads if they’re so inclined.
- Technology. It’s now easy for anyone to record and publish a podcast. With nothing more than an iPhone and an app, you’ve got a lightweight, highly mobile recording studio that can record, edit and upload from anywhere with an Internet connection.
- Money. Podcasting is finally seeing the arrival of major advertisers.
So if you’ve been sitting on a great podcast idea, you no longer have an excuse not to act on it. You don’t need to sell your idea to a radio executive – all the technology is there to start on your own!
If you listen to podcasts I’d be interested to know your habits – what type of content do you listen to (maybe even specific shows), where do you listen to them, and how often?