Podcasting comes of age (or not)

In September of 2004, Doc Searls noted 526 “finds” in a Google search for the word “podcasting.” The creation of Dave Winer’s was just beginning to find traction with geeks back then, but, oh my, how times have changed.

A current search of the word on Google reveals 38 million finds. Not bad for just a couple of years.

But here’s something that really made me sit up and take notice. Friday night’s episode of the CBS drama NUMB3RS contained an important reference to podcasting. The bad guy was one of those religious survivalists who was on the run and communicated with his flock by, you guessed it, podcasting. I was just amazed, and I imagined people in living rooms around the country shaking their heads and saying, “Martha, what did he say? What the hell is ‘podcasting?’ ”

Good news, right? Well…

I spent some time in a web demonstration last week with the good folks at Ingeniux looking at their new podcast management tool. It’s pretty nice and should be in the CMS of any station serious about podcasting. Their business development guy, David Hillis, told me that only about 20% of podcasts are actually downloaded for use in a player. That means the term is basically interchangeable with on-demand streaming, and that’s not what it was originally intended to be.

And so it goes…


  1. Using the iTunes application on my Mac, I have been subscribing and listening to podcasts for a couple of years. But it was just last year, when I got an iPod for my birthday, that I started actually listening to them on anything other than my laptop. So, does that mean that I just recently moved from the 80% to the 20% of the statistic that Hillis cites? Or is subscribing and listening via iTunes considered downloading for use in a player? Once it’s in iTunes, it’s in iTunes, and the podcast is on my hard drive, not part of a stream.

    And why does it matter? I like the iPod a LOT better — without it, I’d go f***ing nuts at my left-brained job — but whether it’s on my laptop or my iPod, I’m still listening. Maybe I’m missing the point. I do that a lot. LOL.

  2. That’s consistent with a listener survey I just did. Here’s the numbers:

    3. Please describe how you listen to the Financial Aid Podcast. Choose all that apply.

    On a CD player: 3.4%
    On my computer: 74.6%
    On my iPod: 30.5%
    On another kind of MP3 player: 11.9%
    On a mobile phone: 3.4%
    Other device: 5.1%



    The one thing I’ve wondered about is — do these surveys take into account multi-mode listeners? I listen off the iPod in the car, but from my MacBook at work.


  1. […] Terry Heaton’s PoMo Blog notes that only 20% of podcasts actually make it to an MP3 Player.  So that means that they’re being played on a Media player on the PC/Mac they’re originally downloaded to.  Terry opines that that’s not the intention was. […]

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