Look at the graph above. It’s a selection of some of the top podcasting sites, and over the last year according to Alexa there is essentially no growth for any of these sites. Podcasting is flat.
First, let me clarify that those sites and many others are a mix of both audio and video podcasting, so I think they all have a future, but I think audio podcasting is not going to go anywhere and that the businesses around podcasting should be looking at video as their future.
Why do I think audio podcasting is flat and doesn’t have any future?
1. It’s hard to scan quickly.
How do I quickly scan a podcast to see if it’s worth listening to like I can skim an article?
2. It’s hard to link to a specific point in a podcast.
Technology can change this, and maybe it will soon, but if I want to directly link to a specific section of a podcast, I can’t do it.
3. Downloading and managing the files sucks.
I like RSS feeds, it’s a great way to consume content. But when I subscribe to a podcasting feed it sucks that my Ipod gets jammed up with files that I never end up hearing. Why don’t I hear them? See point #1 above.
4. Amateur podcasting is hard to take.
Sure, there is lots of amateur blogging and video that is enjoyable, but it’s easier to manage and consume. I don’t want to dedicate 20 minutes of listening time to a podcast to determine it’s as bad as I thought it was.
5. Audio advertising isn’t moving quickly.
I’m in the advertising business and work at developing and following new technology and initiatives, and everyone is talking about video, building out video solutions, and pushing video. There is very little talk and buzz about audio advertising solutions and sales of it. Even Google’s attempts after their acquisition of dMarc haven’t been successful.
As Mark Cuban pointed out back in 2005 by comparing podcasting to streaming radio, the big business model just isn’t there. There will be those who can make some cash and make it a labor of love, but it’s not a big business. As an example, one of the best audio sites, and as this blog post mentions one of the only ones to have any success in generating any growth, Odeo, is on the sales block because the company that created it is moving on to other things. If the site growing the most is up for sale, how are the other ones doing? Yikes.
Not to mention Google Trends seems to show podcasting queries declining.
Video podcasting on the other hand, which I’d just call video blogging (vlogging) or just creating themed videos like Ask a Ninja, ZeFrank, and Rocketboom, does have a bright future. Why is this? Video is more interesting. We like to see people why we hear them. It’s why people watch TV and movies now while sitting at home instead of listening to the radio. Video can be scanned easier. Video ads pay well and everyone is moving in that direction.
I hope the podcasting companies out there with flat traffic over the last year are working on video fast and furious.