The number of posts I made (or didn’t) this quarter was pathetic. Rather than float some excuses as to why, suffice it to say it was a combination of this being my final class before I graduate—and even more debilitating was my schedule at work. If a cool breeze passes by in the next week or so, I will blow away because I feel like spent ash. Time was just not going to be had. Time and podcasting are necessary if they are to be a happy couple.

This got me thinking though, if podcasting’s major accomplishment is time-shifting why is it so unpopular? Well..it IS unpopular and there are statistics to prove it. I came into the class pretty fired up. I had discovered podcasting and the prospect of doing my own show was exciting. When Eric Weaver visited the class and spoke highly of podcasting’s bright future, it added more fuel to my flames. Then James Preston came in and doused those flames with a cold bucket of reality. Nobody listens to podcasts. Nobody as in the same amount of people who listen to satellite radio. Why not?

Here is what I found out. Edison Media and Arbitron released a report in 2007. The good news is there has been a significant jump in the amount of people who have heard of podcasting. The bad news is nobody cares and only an insignificant amount of people started listening to podcasts over the previous year. See the charts below.

To quote the Edison (not Edelman!) blogpost about this report, ” If you think podcasting isn’t “broken,” think on these graphs again. Millions of Americans learned about podcasting this year, and the vast majority responded…”meh.”

This leads me back to my own problems this quarter. Podcasting takes time. It takes time to create and it takes time to listen to, time-shifted or not. People are so starved for time that it will be very difficult for this medium to find penetration in the long run. New media, in general, is a young person’s phenomenon. They haven’t been indoctrinated into the rituals of established media as have older people. They get it. Most everyone else doesn’t. But, most of all younger people have the time that older people don’t.

Growing up with new media will change the future, this we can all count on. Can’t we? “Consumer-controlled content is clearly the future for both audio and video” says the blogger from Edison, yet he also agrees that until podcasting can make itself easy to use it will hover at these depressing numbers.

Ironically (wink), the problem, according to Edison Media, is time: “one popular debate amongst podcasters is the appropriate length of a podcast…Let’s work to develop 30 minute podcasts that give me a table of contents and let me listen to only the three minutes I care about, and you’ll have a better chance of getting your podcast onto my player. Instead of worrying about how long to make uninterrupted chunks of audio, podcasters should work on creating the Netvibes or Pageflakes of audio–simple search and aggregation of ONLY the content I want.”

So there you have it, the best podcasts are the ones that take no time to receive and are infinitely interesting to listen to in less than three minutes. No wonder nobody is listening.

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