Podcasts Entering 'Golden Age' After Experiencing Surge in Growth

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podcastsThe continued rise of smartphone and tablet adoption and the addition of Podcasts as a stock app on iOS 8 has resulted in significant growth for podcasts in the United States, reports Ad Age. Overall consumption of podcasts experienced 18% growth in the U.S. between Spring and Fall 2014 as Americans now listen to approximately 21.1 million hours of podcasts per day, according to Edison Research.

The resurgence of podcasts arrives around a decade after the audio format became established for iPod and iTunes, and the sudden rise in popularity has some podcast makers excited. "Creatively, we are entering a new golden age," said Matthew Lieber, co-founder of the podcasting startup Gimlet Media. "In terms of the golden age of the business," he added, "we're just getting started."

A direct beneficiary of the so-called "podcast renaissance" is Serial, a spin-off of This American Life that has amassed close to 72 million downloads since it started being aired last fall. Serial is based upon a Baltimore murder case in 1999, in which detectives arrest the ex-boyfriend of a high school senior that disappears after school one day. All twelve episodes are available through iTunes and on the Serial website for free.

While we may be entering the "golden age" of podcasts, the report finds that brand advertisers are still spending significantly less dollars on the medium than more traditional forms of media such as broadcast television, radio, newspapers and magazines. Advertising agency ZenithOptimedia reported last year that podcast ad spending growth would remain flat through at least the next two years.

Podcasting has been an advertising backwater. A ZenithOptimedia report from June 2014 -- before "Serial" debuted -- said podcast ad spending would remain at $34 million annually through 2016. That's a small fraction of what marketers earmark for other media. Ad buyers and media executives say about 80% of the ads played during podcasts are direct-response, prompting listeners to visit a website or call a 1-800 number. Only 20% represents brand advertisers.

The rise in popularity of podcasts is attributed to several other factors, including the wider availability of connected cars that make in-car listening to podcasts much easier for daily commuters. New York Magazine noted last October that the renaissance of podcasting goes hand-in-hand with the improved quality of podcasts, as more content makers turn to the platform as a cheaper alternative over hosting a TV show or radio show.

Podcasts emerged around 2005 as episodic audio series that can span anywhere from a few minutes to several hours in length. Apple users with an iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac or other device to listen with can subscribe to podcasts through iTunes to receive the latest podcasts. A wide range of podcasts are available in iTunes based on genres such as news, technology, fashion, food and restaurants, general talk shows, education and more.

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74 months ago

DISCLAIMER: I'm all over the map politically so this isn't a anti-liberal statement.....

Only listening to Bill Maher to learn about news and current affairs is like only asking a DA to give you summary of how a crime happened. More that just being one sided, he is also an entertainer first and commentator second. Entertaining yes, but not the best place to form an opinion on current events.

I don't listen to Bill Maher to get Bill Maher's opinion on everything. I like the panel discussions where sometimes even the entire panel might disagree with Maher himself. I think the show attracts a lot of intelligent and well educated people with many different viewpoints. Reza Aslan is somebody who disagrees with Maher on most issues of Islam for example and yet he brings him back to the show again and again. I like having my beliefs challenged and opening a dialogue on issue most people find too controversial. I think Maher does a good job of bringing many silent topics to light. If my beliefs are ill founded I hope there is somebody there to slap me back to reason.

He is unapologetically left wing of course, but he is but one member of a discussion involving 5-6 people. His show has a unique intelligent open dialogue between liberals and conservatives, democrats and republicans, religious and non religious, Pro and Anti Israel supporters and so.

If I'm honest I think Maher is on target the majority of the time, but certainly never always. I loved Christopher Hitchens for the same boldness and lack of concern of offending others when he felt an issue was important. Hitchens of course could be wrong, for example his side on the Iraq war is quite questionable in retrospect, but being as objective as I can muster I conclude that he is on point the majority of the time. Sam Harris I believe is somebody who while human, I have yet to disagree with on any major issue. I will attempt to keep my mind open in case of that should occur.

While I tend to disagree with somebody like Bill O'Reilly on the vast majority of issues, and would also question his often evasive interview style, one must at least commend him for bringing onto his show, people he knowingly disagrees with himself. I feel Maher does a vastly superior job of stimulating open discussion and knows when to back down more often (although not always).

But on your point on a single minded world view, I think it is of course important to use multiple news sources when serious about accurate portrayal and facts. That said, listening to Fox News for example with even the most objective of attitudes makes my head explode more often than is comfortable.

And hey, even if I'm 100% bias on an issue (which I hope I'm not), at least I know something about it. My desire to better my world whether misguided or not is more difficult when in ignorance of a topic entirely. I'm just trying not to be a passenger as a citizen. At the risk of sounding conceded, I feel I am more knowledgeable on current affairs than the majority of my college contemporaries. I enjoy parties and sex too, but I find it a little saddening when somebody can't offer an informed opinion on taxing ethics or the right to own a gun. Whatever side you take, at least you care.

And of course, the entertainment aspect is appealing too. :p Thanks for the opportunity to rant! Feels great to mouth off once in a while. :)

DISCLAIMER: I am liberal on most issues I can think of. I like me some capitalism sprinkled with socialism European style. I think freedom of speech is better in the USA then here in Europe however. I don't think guns should be illegal but properly regulated. I mostly support abortion but I think some criminals can derive the death penalty. I believe in free religious practice for all, with not sate supported religious at all. I think most if not all drugs should be legal and regulated. I think global warming is real. I like science in general, being a Computer Scientist myself. Hey, maybe if I end up a middle aged man with a desk job I'll be a raging conservative, but for now I'll hold my pretty libertarianesque principals for the world to see, typed on a MacBook Pro my dad bought me. ;) Just trying to make sense of the world cautiously.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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74 months ago
Besides Serial and This American Life mentioned in the article, there are so many podcats that I listen to regularly and that make my commute so much better. For example, my favorites are:

- Radiolab
- Freakonomics Radio
- 99% Invisible
- Planet Money
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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74 months ago
Owned tons of Apple products since 2008 and yet I never started using Podcasts until last month.

Listening to Bill Maher's Real Time on the bus to college every week is entertaining and I get to learn lots about US and global news and current affairs. :)
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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74 months ago
I've still never managed to listen to one.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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74 months ago
I can't recommend Dan Savage's 'Savage Lovecast' enough. I've listened to hundreds of them over the years.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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74 months ago
Marc Maron and John Gruber!
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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