TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Podcasting: Can This New Medium Make Money?

Podcasting: Can This New Medium Make Money?

Monty Solomon (
Sun, 14 Aug 2005 14:23:30 -0400

Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh and his nemesis, Al Franken,
are podcasting. As are ESPN, former MTV video jockey Adam Curry and
thousands of others. Podcasting, a way to broadcast audio over the
Internet, has become the latest web movement to get everyone's

Including Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs, who recently called it "the
next generation of radio." On June 28, Apple announced that it had
integrated podcasts into the latest version of iTunes software so that
users can manage and receive these new kinds of broadcasts. It's a
logical move. After all, the podcast moniker stuck partially because
of the popularity of the iPod, although most of these broadcasts are
produced in a format that can be played on music players using the
MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3, or MP3, audio compression format. Podcasting can
also apply to video broadcasts, but audio dominates for now.

The actual content on podcasts is a mix of amateur broadcasters --
waxing poetic about everything from global warming to venture capital
to ice hockey -- and media giants that are repurposing existing shows
like "Nightline." Podcasting is different from traditional media
broadcasting because it allows listeners to "time shift," or listen to
programs at their leisure, unlike radio, which operates on a
schedule. Podcasting is also different from traditional media in that
the means of production and distribution are readily available to
anyone. The technology required to produce podcast content is
relatively simple and, unlike the scarce radio broadcast spectrum, the
distribution channel -- the Internet -- is available to all.

The market for podcasts is growing quickly. A survey by the Pew
Internet & American Life Project found that more than six million
people out of the 22 million who own iPods or MP3 players have
listened to a podcast. Such activity begs the question: Is podcasting
here to stay? Experts at Wharton and analysts who follow the market
answer with a resounding yes. As to whether a business model emerges
for these broadcasts, observers suggest that advertising and
subscription revenues may eventually come into play. Apple, for
example, could begin serving as a guide to podcasts and sell a few
more iPods in the process. "A lot of the attention has been overdone,
but podcasting is not going away," says Wharton marketing professor
Peter Fader. "It will continue to grow and resources will be thrown at
it. Some will do podcasting well and be rewarded for it."

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