I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Podcasting is nothing more than a phase. It will probably always be around in some format or other, but it is destined slow down to the point of existing in the form of only a few (maybe 20 or 30 at most) podcasts that anyone cares about or listens to. The following points are generalizations, but ones that I feel mostly hold true.
1. Podcasts are time consuming to create. You can’t sit down on your lunch break at work and whip one out. You can’t write one on you PDA in the train on the way to work, you have to be physically in front of a computer with a microphone and have a dedicated chunk of non-interrupted time. Most people don’t have time to do that–not unless they are making money off it, which brings me to point two.
2. Podcasts don’t make money. I’m definitely not saying that every podcaster wants to make money, but if they wanted to, could they? I would guess there are probably 10 podcasters who actually make money and most of them have been around long before it was called podcasting. They have real experience in the industry and are producing full-fledged radio shows. Not only that, they are mostly run by companies with sales teams and content editors.
3. Podcasts are expensive to produce. In order to create a quality podcast, you’ve got to have some nice equipment. Just any old microphone plugged into your computer isn’t going to cut it. Not only do you have to have the equipment and software, you’ve got to know how to use it. Combine not making money with being expensive to produce and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
4. Podcasts are boring. On the whole, the podcasts I’ve listened to are good for the first couple episodes, but quickly dry up. I’m not assigning blame–it’s really hard to come up with 30 to 60 minutes of interesting content, especially if you’re doing it alone and on a regular basis. For the most part, it seems like people just don’t have that much to say or that much time to prepare to say it–not unless they have a team behind them preparing content and taking care of the technical side of things.
5. Podcasts sound bad. People who make it into radio generally get there in part because they have a good, interesting radio voice. Unfortunately we weren’t all endowed with radio voices. Even the most interesting and compelling content can become dull and hard to listen to if the presenter doesn’t have an appealing and varied voice.
6. Podcasts are too long. In my experience, the content that a 30 minute podcast contains could probably be gathered in about 2 minutes of scanning a website. Sometimes it’s nice to have 30 minutes to hear someone leisurely sharing their news and views, especially on a long car ride, but for the most part, I feel like constantly reaching for the fast forward button.
7. Podcasts are light on content. I read an article saying Audible.com’s stock was taking a hit because free podcasts may replace audiobooks for a lot of people. I seriously doubt that will be the case. Listen to an hour of almost any book from Audible, then listen to an hour of a podcast. After which do you feel you’ve learned more? Been more entertained? Enjoyed? In my experience, it’s almost always the audiobook. Some people will opt for the free option of a podcast rather than paying for an audiobook, but I believe most people value their time enough to pay for content that they will get the most from.
I discovered podcasts in March of 2004, before the term podcast was coined. I was excited about them for about a month then quickly lost interest. I believe the same thing will happen for many other people as well; they’ll lose interest in all but the most professionally produced podcasts. The successful podcasts will probably be produced by companies who also do Public Radio, a select few who figure out to make money podcasting and the occasional enthusiast who has a lot of spare time on his or her hands, a great voice, technical skills and a whole lot of interesting things to say.