Despite the resurgence of podcasting over the last few years, most don’t have a clue of the complex journey that the platform has embarked on over the last decade. I like to say, respect your elders…or better yet, respect the historic work that those who came before us undertook.
For Podcasting, it was an interesting journey to relevancy. And thanks to blogging, iTunes, serial, and smartphones, we are experiencing a golden age for podcasting. But let’s have a quick look back on how we got here! Let’s understand our history.
Podcasting is More Related to Blogging than Radio
To look at the future of podcasting, let’s take a quick look back. To many, a podcast is similar to a radio show. But a deeper understanding of the DNA of a podcast places it closer to the blogging world. Think about this way:
A content producer shares knowledge or opinions about topics in line with the individual’s business or service. The format can include allowing listeners to tune in, can be recorded in advance, or even at a recorded public speaking event.
A podcast, when it relates to a specific topic, product, or position, is basically an audio blog. Podcasting has its roots in the 1980s, but by the mid-1990s, there were several Internet-based radio shows. Ten years later, with Napster, individuals began downloading music. No subscriptions, but it made it possible to take advantage of newer software at the time.
Simultaneously, others were working toward formalizing RSS feeds and audio blogging. After several years of developments, audio blogging moved to iPod, and in 2004, from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, the number of Google searches for “podcasts” quadrupled, and continued to grow exponentially.
Did you know that George W. Bush distributed his weekly radio address as a podcast?
Apple iTunes started to support podcasting, and with the evolution of the smartphone, many started to explore the platform. The company’s reputation, along with the ability to find thousands of different podcasts in an easily accessible directory, turned podcasting into a household word. Popular culture leaders quickly adopted the habit; President George W. Bush updated Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats” by podcasting his weekly address.
Podcasting Cooled After It’s Initial Appeal…but then Serial Happened
However, the excitement began to wane, and podcasts fell out of popularity. The most compelling reason for this shift was most likely because of the user interface. While it started off as an incredibly easy-to-use platform, mobile technology progressed faster than the podcast user interface.
Subscribing and listening to podcasts became more complicated, and for the next nine years, podcasting’s popularity cooled. Yes, people were still publishing, but with few results.
In 2013, though, Apple included their Podcasts app as a native iPhone application. All of a sudden, podcasting hit mainstream again. It wasn’t nearly as pretty or user-friendly as it could be, but it got the job done, and ever since then, Apple has continued to improve the Podcasts app. Now, anyone with an iPhone can find and download any podcast in a little as a few seconds. Then Serial happened, in 2014. #Boom!
Google Play, recognizing the possibilities in the market, also launched a podcast directory, opening the door for Android users to take their favorite podcasts on-the-go, as well.
We Heart Podcasts – But Why?
What makes podcasting so popular? We could just listen to the radio, read a book — or listen to an audio book, right? Well, podcasting combines the best of each element. Reading needs time, focus, and concentration. Videos require time and concentration. Audio books are a good option, but they also need concentration, and radio is usually filled with commercials or music, interrupting the show you want to hear.
When you listen to a podcast, though, you have the control. It’s a purely opt-in choice. Conversely, when you turn on the radio, you’re at the mercy of the station’s schedule. Podcasting apps, however, let you choose the broadcaster or subject, the time or the place to listen, and the subjects that most interest you.
Podcasts can be carried with you wherever you take your phone, which is nearly everywhere, all the time. Whether we are driving, exercising, washing dishes, or doing laundry, podcasts allow us to learn more, kill time, and experience the full gamut of emotions, with a few quick clicks in your smartphone’s app.
Consumption Habits Continue to Evolve
Just as the trend of cutting the cord is impacting Television consumption, podcasts are re-shaping the way we consume our audio programming. It’s the audio version of Netflix. Most importantly, podcasts embody an authentic, engaging connection that makes the listener feel a part of what they are listening to. I
t’s a connection other mediums can only hope for. Podcasts go deep. Look at it as a loyal romance, between the listener & the show.As the industry continues to leap ahead, on a path towards $1 Billion in annual advertising revenue, it’s also important to respect that path that brought us here.