I regularly listen to four different podcasts every week. They keep me company when I’m driving, running, walking the dog, working in the backyard or cleaning the garage. I’m totally hooked on the medium. And finally, podcasting is entering the mainstream. This comes from Stratechery:
I like driving, even if I end up sitting in traffic. I enjoy doing the laundry, and take my time folding shirts just so. I volunteer to wash the dishes. After all, each of these activities is an excuse to listen to more podcasts.
I’ve been listening to podcasts for over a decade now; I don’t remember exactly when I got started but it was around the time that Apple Took Podcasting Mainstream: that’s from the title of the press release announcing iTunes support for podcasts in 2005. Given that most podcasts were listened to on iPods (thus the name) that already synced with iTunes, Apple’s move dramatically simplified the distribution of podcasts: simply click a button in the music management app you already used, hook up the iPod as you already did, and voilà! New podcasts ready to be listened to in the car (via your cassette tape adaptor), while doing laundry, washing the dishes, etc. It was great!
It also was not in the slightest bit mainstream: according to Edison Research, in 2006 only 22% of Americans were even familiar with the term “podcasting”, and only 11% had ever listened to one. Both numbers have slowly but steadily grown over the years (55% have heard of podcasting as of this year, and 36% have listened to one, and there actually isn’t a readily apparent ‘Serial’ bump), aided in large part by the smartphone: by removing the need to sync with iTunes it was much easier to have fresh podcasts at the ready. Still, there remained the challenge of creating compelling content, discovering content worth listening to, retaining listeners and, of course, paying for it all.