Are podcasts hot or not? Charlene Li, an analyst at Forrester Research, in her controversial report says its not. She points out that a mere one percent of online households are regularly downloading and listening to podcasts. That number will be around 700,000 in 2006, she […]

Are podcasts hot or not? Charlene Li, an analyst at Forrester Research, in her controversial report says its not. She points out that a mere one percent of online households are regularly downloading and listening to podcasts. That number will be around 700,000 in 2006, she predicts. (Those who disagree with her point to The Diffusion Group report.)

I think its easy to work yourself into a lather over Li’s report, but I see it as a glass half full. Sure it is a highly fragmented market, but still, that’s a large pool of listeners and certainly larger than the number of users on most Web 2.0 start-ups.

If you look at the iTunes podcast page by popularity, you see more and more mainstream fare, like ESPN Radio. People know NPR or ESPN and are comfortable with downloading familiar or favorite shows, aka time-shifted radio posing as podcasts. I have argued about this before, but Don Dodge does a better job of explaining the problems with podcasts.

I do a weekly podcast with Niall Kennedy and one thing I know – it is hard work. You really need to bring a value proposition to the table, and hope that listeners like it. We will soon touch 700 listeners, and given the feedback we get, they actually listen to the weekly show. For me, that’s pretty darn good. Who cares if they add upto only 0.1% of all podcast listeners!

Update: James Enck: On demand radio is going great guns in Europe and in UK. He points to BBC data. Maybe we should stop calling them podcasts?

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  1. Om, thanks for the compliment and link. I followed the link to your podcast page. The first one I saw was 22 minutes long. I love you man, and I read just about everything you write, but for some reason I just can’t stop what I am doing for 22 minutes to listen to something where I’m not sure if it will hold my interest.

    I have high speed broadband but still…it just takes too long. With audio and video there is no efficient way to scan ahead. You can fast forward but you never know what you are missing by doing that. With the written word I can scan super fast and not miss much at all.

    The blogosphere is ADD central. Attention is fleeting and fickle. Podcasts can’t grab attention like the written word.

  2. Breck Robinson Thursday, April 6, 2006

    Just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy the podcast. It is both interesting and enlightening. Thanks for doing it.

  3. I’d like to see people do some audio conversations, more in the 10 minute range. Say you blog about something, then you do a quick 5 minute interview with one of the participants. Value is created because your adding value to your new items, and it’s also something that doesn’t take a long time to listen to and digest.

  4. The Web: An iPod for your car
    CHICAGO, April 5 (UPI) — Would you like some digital music downloaded directly to your dashboard — not just your desktop? That may be the next phase of mobile music, as automotive aftermarket suppliers and computer and consumer electronics companies eye autos as the latest, emerging market for Internet music distribution, experts are telling United Press International’s The Web column.

    Last year some 700 million mobile phones were sold globally, making the cellular devices the hub for downloading digital content from the Internet. By Gene Koprowski

  5. They’re mostly WAAAAAY too long.

    5 minutes. Tops. 3 minutes is better.

    It’s really hard to do a good 10 minute segment. Doing a daily half hour, well look at the level of writers on Colbert or Daily Show… You got writers that good?

  6. I love your podcast Om. You an Niall seem to have “chemistry”

    Agree with the comment on keeping podcasts short. 20mins seems to be a good time to be able to get into the content but without dragging things out.

    I subcribe to a number of daily and weekly podcasts. Much prefer the weekly casts as I don’t always get a chance to listen to the daily ones on the day they are released. I often find I end up deleting 3-4 of the daily podcasts a week just so I can catch up to the current one.

    Keep your podcasts coming!

  7. Only 700? I feel like I’m part of an exclusive group! Seriously, your podcast is one of the best tech ones out there. The things that I like about it are: 1) You dont just repeat what I can already read on your blog. You add to it add comment on it. 2) I can tell that you are trying to add value with your podcast.

    Though, I agree with some of the other posters… If I did not have such a long commute, I might not listen to it. I think over time, the weaker podcasts will eventually filter out and drop off, and when we have high speed wireless everywhere, including in our cars, the better podcasts will become like NPR for the various niche interests… They will probably cover the various niche interests like magazines have done.

  8. Om, I enjoy your podcasts a lot. Do you know what % of your readers download your podcasts? That would be an indication of its popularity.

  9. Todd Cochrane Thursday, April 6, 2006

    The numbers cannot be correct, we are tracking podcast listenership very close at techpodcasts.com with our affiliates and we are seeing over a 100,000 unique listeners ourselves just on 22 shows. So I am not buying what the survey says.

  10. My $0.02…

    The best podcasts are kept below 15 minutes. Ideally around 10, and when they are posted with predictable frequency but still only when there is something substantive to say. Daily is too much, especially when the subject matter doesn’t merit the episode and time gets out of hand. Publishing a podcast is hard work; focus and commitment aren’t easy.

    I also don’t think podcasts have actually hit yet. Some may write them off but I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg yet. Podcasters are early adopters.

    Om and Niall’s cast is well worth my time. It’s a niche cast, as most good casts are. I find it well focused and it helps to keep me connected to what’s going on in topics I care about. It doesn’t waste my time and I don’t have to read… or skim… I say well done, Om and Niall!

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