Pew podcast numbers questioned

Like others in the blogosphere yesterday, I was taken aback by Pew’s research indicating nearly one-third of iPod users had downloaded a podcast and that podcasts had an audience of six million. But, hey, Pew is Pew, so who knew these numbers were, shall we say, a bit tilted. Engadget writes:

The methodology seemed iffy from the get go (they only interviewed 208 people, which lead to a whopping 7.5% margin of error), but that didn’t stop them from issuing an attention-grabbing press release about how 6 million Americans were listening to podcasts, a number which has been thrown around endlessly over the past couple of days. Well, now Pew’s research director is engaging in a little backtracking, saying that even they don’t believe that 6 million Americans are listening to podcasts, and has admitted that the question they asked (if people had “ever downloaded a podcast or radio Internet program”) was a little overly broad since it could easily encompass all sorts of things besides podcasts. And since most people still don’t know the difference between streaming and downloading, we bet that anyone who has ever even listened to Internet radio said yes to this question, too.
Podcasting is a wonderful new method of communicating in a radio format, and I wholeheartedly endorse it. The problem with “research” like this, however, is that it brings back Internet bubble hype memories, and all that will do is slow the actual adoption of podcasting.

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