Listening to that has made me doubt that we're in the era of "big podcasting."
Here's a quote from Alex Blumberg:
"Just nine months earlier, we at Gimlet raised a big round of funding, 15 million dollars. The plan was to invest a lot of that into making more shows, hiring more people. We wanted that big chunk of money to last for a while: two and a half years. Meaning, we wanted to burn about 6 million a year. But at this meeting, Jim is telling us that right now in early 2018, it's looking like we're going to burn a lot more than that: 10-11 million a month."
He goes on to explain why:
"And that's because a lot of the things we assumed would happen, didn't. We assumed audiences would grow, but instead they plateaued. Our launches had not done as well as they had in the past. And some of our biggest shows, with the largest audiences, still weren't making money because we couldn't sell ads on them."
Speaking of burning cash, the thing that baffles me about the investment in podcasts is the immaturity of the revenue stream. I'm a heavy podcast listener, but I'm only going to buy so many Casper mattresses, quip toothbrushes, and FreshDirect meal services in a year. It's always amazing when podcast episodes don't even post their promo codes with their episode descriptions. The likelihood that I will purchase something from a podcast episode is 1%, but the likelihood that I will retrace through the episode, pinpoint the ad read, and use the promo code that is also available online from 100 other sources is .001%.
For anyone keeping track, the number of mattresses, electric toothbrushes, and meal delivery services I have used in 2019 is 0.
Wildly assume the number of shows in that list that aren’t being produced anymore (but are still creating revenue) is equal to the number of shows they’re currently paying to produce, but haven’t released.
How do you spend $4M+ every year per podcast?
And not to take anything away from them or their valuation—the ongoing value of the library they’re creating and IP they can license is huge—just want to understand the expense side.
I mean the same way any big company blows unfathomable amounts of money. Too many people doing too little (or doing the wrong things), paying too much to consultants/outside agencies, thinking the money will never stop flowing.
Maybe I'm just thinking about this whole thing in too simplistic a fashion, but if the content is such that you can't make money on a podcast, why exactly are you spending money on producing it?
Why do people do open source software for free at times?
If they had a large, devout audience, but couldn’t make money, it seems their main issue was relying on the wrong form of monetization.
Meanwhile, theres been a lot more big podcast that basically just bank on the personality of the host (e.g. Joe Rogan's) that can pretty much cost nothing to produce, and can churn out episodes after episodes talking about random stuffs.
Bummer though, coz I enjoy Gimlet's model of podcast a lot more.
Sounds like the porn business when digital video got decent.
It doesn't work in the basic Apple podcasts app, but that app stinks and Pocket Casts is now free to use.
The app developer, Marco Arment, is also co-host of Accidental Tech Podcast. One cool feature in Overcast is chapter markers: You can embed ID3v2 chapter frames in your RSS feed's MP3 files indicating when different segments start. This lets the listener jump between segments, it's a pretty slick experience.
Unsurprisingly, ATP uses this functionality. Advertising chapters are labelled as such, but the timecodes are always deliberately skewed so that skipping to the next chapter after an ad still gives you the last 15 seconds or so of the ad read.
I suppose this is a slightly better user experience than disabling the Skip Next button altogether on an ad segment, but it still irks me to be on the losing end of a conflict of interest.
...says the guy (me) complaining about a free podcast being played in a free podcast app.
a free podcast app
Arment's attention to little details is one of the reasons I <cough> paid whatever trivial amount he wants for an app I use daily. ;-)
...says the guy (me) writing a self-hostable podcast platform.
Apple Podcasts added support in iOS 12, here's a Google Sheet of the rest: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1c2L14UVH1xtN4iDG4awh...
Personally I skip forward past ads all the time.
I have half a mind to write a podcast player that skips ads for me. It doesn't feel like an insurmountable problem.
Community-run data API for podcasts that people mark the beginning and end of audio ads. This way most of the community can skip them.
I think it would be harder with podcasts because of the diversity of available podcast players.
And that's just at a single point in time: It's not uncommon for episodes to be re-edited and re-uploaded, or ads to be changed up (with different lengths) over time.
Maybe when you say “kids” you’re talking about me though!
And we still call "hard drive" that because they weren't floppy even while floppies weren't floppy!
And we call it a "drive" after the tape drive motor from reel-to-reel tape storage!
I wonder what we can learn from that.
The reason why podcasting works was because it was its own little internet within the internet. People with great stories, content that was just different en often more specific and niece then sites and video.
We’ll see where it’s going to end up, but I do worried about the current fight of who is going to be the podcasting platform. The power for me was the sense of independence the creators had making it feel more like a labor of love then a marketing machine.
Some of my current favorites:
S-town: powerful storytelling, makes you wonder how much power the storyteller has. It’s a non fiction story about an interesting individual, explaining more would be a spoiler.
White vault: thriller show, starts off a bit clunky with the voice acting. But as a horror lover the story itself is well written and it just works so well as a podcast.
Benjamin walkers - theory of everything: it’s on a league of its own. The creator is just as historied as the brains behind the npr and gimlet podcasts. It’s interesting because you start to understand that the lines between what is truth and what is fake is so thin. I think there is even an episode over this exact subject.
The big loop: great fiction storytelling most similar to the truth podcast but it takes more tune to tell the story, the little bit of extra space give the story a much deeper dimension.
Darknet diaries: fiction podcast about hackers, gentle deep dive in the hacker world with some amazing stories. The author really does understand the world and you just feel the amount of research that goes into each episode.
I wondered if "Jack Rhysider" might actually be Ira Glass, so I google image'd him. Try it -- he has somehow polluted google images with his name such that google images shows myriad different faces to his name. Cool trick -- not sure how he managed it.
I don't think he had to do anything, I have a rather unique name, yet Google also shows a bunch of faces. I think it's the algorithm detecting that you're search for a person, and therefore shows you faces. If there aren't enough photos of you, it'll show other results.
Podcasts need to be published on so many different platforms manually. Ratings and reviews appear to be non-existant outside of the Apple ecosystem. You still can't export your subscriptions from some major applications, and good luck exporting your listening history from any.
I feel like creating something 10x better is such a low hanging fruit, I'm surprised nobody has done it. Make a player that syncs across devices and platforms, exports/imports to/from other podcast apps/platforms (using scraping if necessary), aggregates and gather reviews, provides a basic recommendation system, allows subscribing to keywords (people, topics), etc. If it supports audio books, YouTube subscriptions (those channels with long talks and conversations and lectures that aren't strongly visual), and saved bookmarks/Pocket/Evernote article via text-to-speech, that's even better.
When I commute, walk, exercise, cook, wash dishes, stretch, brush my teeth, take a shower, do laundry, mow the lawn, shovel snow, stop looking at a screen and go to bed 1h before sleep, I want to hit play and be fed a customized audio diet.
As for reviews, podcasts are so decentralized that I'm not sure where one would start with aggregating reviews. And smaller apps probably don't want to deal with the trouble of moderating ratings and reviews on their own platform. See: https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/28/20835812/podcast-review-b...
And, in this case, Apple is on the side of the angels. They don’t rehost your audio or your RSS feed. They simply index it for search.
Also, their is a standard for importing and exporting subscriptions - OPML. Overcast uses it.
The thing that I liked about DoggCatcher is that, as I remember (beyond usual features like search and discovery) it was relatively easy to hook it up to whatever source you wanted. I had lectures in a Dropbox link, and I could point DoggCatcher at the folder and it would pick up my audio files, while being seamlessly integrated with “normal” podcast feeds.
I had recently, after getting tired of listening to music on my commute (A 12 minute bike ride, or a 25 minute walk) from home to work started to listen to podcast that I find normally here (My other source of content is reddit, but the quality is not the same).
What I see, is that usually what gets named is really, really good; or at least very interesting. the other thing that I like a lot is that the duration of the episodes is more or less my commute. If it were longer I'd have the possibility of listening to a couple of them, or listening to a longer episode.
When I tried to consume podcasts before they were always long, and that was annoying because they demand too much attention from you, and the UX of a podcast is not the same as television.
I wont provide links but as probably is going to be asked I'll provide the episodes that got me hooked on different podcasts:
"This American Life": Episode about a guy and his years long enterprise of outrunning an antelope.
"Planet Money" and the Indian non-cash experiment.
"99% invisible" and an interview with the writer of "Invisible women" a book about gender bias in daily life (This one was so good that made me scream in anger several times in the street!)
Sorry but I don't remember much about another one, that was about a dirty cop that decided to go live in the wild because he was going to jail, and ended up living alone for more than 20 years (And hr got pardoned when he turned himself up)
Sorry but my comment is crap here. This 2 ideas are separated one from the other. I live on a non english speaking country so I can comment on that (The big era thing).
But even then, all the rest and blah blah blah. sorry about my lack of writing skills (And proofreading).
Other podcast networks like 5by5 have mostly withered to one or two successful shows, though that example is due to a shift of focus from podcasting to providing tools for aspiring podcasters (Fireside). Kind of like running the general store in a gold rush town.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eaPmW2O5o1c (video version)
Or audio version:
Would someone with more insight help me to understand?
There is a slight offset from the smartphone adoption curve because you need a bigger market to support niche productions long enough to work out enough standard formats that it can be easily replicated in non-niche segments.
Once you have non-niche shows that are nicely formatted, and you’re past the tipping point for smartphones, the curve stands up.