Blog Post

Online Video Grabs Headlines, While Online Audio Carves Out Its Niche

With everyone’s eyes focused on the online video news of the past few days (Viacom/YouTube, NBC/News Corp. deal), Mark Glaser’s Mediashift decided to take the pulse of audio podcasting and finds it’s doing just fine. While the attempts to find a suitable measurement continue, Glaser shares the anecdotal evidence from Maria Thomas, NPR Digital Media’s VP/GM, who says she hasn’t seen evidence of video cannibalizing the time people spend with NPR podcasts. While satisfied with the stable numbers of downloads of full NPR shows on iTunes, video is becoming a greater part of its website. Thomas hastens to add that the move towards video will remain fairly limited. “I think of it as mostly a niche strategy…I don’t see us trying to compete with AP news video.”
Rather than take a simple contrarian view, Glaser assembles an array of opinion that indicates that the increased adoption of both digital video and audio will take different paths. Online video tends to skew towards entertainment and comedy. In the case of video news blog Rocketboom, founder Andrew Baron said adding audio podcasts isn’t in the cards for his site. Seeing something blow up is inherently more dramatic than just listening to the sound of an explosion, he reasons.
On the other hand, Rob Walch, founder of podcast directory Podcast411, says podcasts have advantages over video for people on the go (a point indirectly illustrated by Rocketboom’s Thursday webcast on Apple TV, which shows its correspondent bumping into a sign while watching her iPod). Plus, as simple as it maybe to make a decent video, it’s still much easier for amateurs to create a decent podcast, which will also ensures its viability.