What is a Podcast?
A podcast is known by many name: internet radio, time-shifted media, downloadable radio, independent media, … but basically it is the newest, fastest growing, and most accessible form of media, entertainment, and news.
A podcast is an episodic series of digital audio or video files which a user can download and listen to. It is often available for subscription, so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s own local computer, mobile application, or portable media player.
The word arose as a portmanteau of “iPod” (a brand of media player) and “broadcast”. Thus, the files distributed are in audio format, but may sometimes include other file formats such as PDF or ePub. Videos which are shared following a podcast model are called video podcasts or vodcasts.
The distributor of a podcast maintains a central list of the files on a server as a web feed that can be accessed through the Internet. The listener or viewer uses special client application software on a computer or media player, known as a podcatcher, which accesses this web feed, checks it for updates, and downloads any new files in the series. This process can be automated so that new files are downloaded automatically, which may seem to the user as though new episodes are broadcast or “pushed” to them. Files are stored locally on the user’s device, ready for offline use. There are many different mobile applications available for people to use to subscribe and listen to podcasts. Many of these applications allow users to download podcasts or stream them on demand as an alternative to downloading. Many podcast players (apps as well as dedicated devices) allow listeners to skip around the podcast and control the playback speed.
Some have labeled podcasting as a converged medium bringing together audio, the web, and portable media players, as well as a disruptive technology that has caused some people in the radio business to reconsider established practices and preconceptions about audiences, consumption, production, and distribution. Podcasts are usually free of charge to listeners and can often be created for little to no cost, which sets them apart from the traditional model of “gate-kept” media and production tools. Podcast creators can monetize their podcasts by allowing companies to purchase ad time, as well as via sites such a Patreon, which provides special extras and content to listeners for a fee. It is very much a horizontal media form: producers are consumers, consumers may become producers, and both can engage in conversations with each other
From Edison Research and Triton Digital (2017):
55% of Americans age 12+ are aware of the term “podcasting.”
36% have listened to or watched a podcast at least once.
21% have listened to a podcast in the previous month; 13% have listened in the previous week.
56% of podcast fans are men, and 44% are women.
The podcast audience has a higher median income ($63,000) than the general US adult population ($53,000).
Podcast consumers are more likely to have a four-year college degree and/or graduate degree than the general US adult population.
Younger consumers are more likely to listen to podcasts than are Americans age 55+.
Weekly podcast consumers listen to 5 podcasts per week, on average, for an average of 4 hours and 10 minutes per week.
71% of consumers use their smartphone to listen to podcasts; 29% use their computer.
53% of podcast consumers listen to podcasts most often at home.