Podcast Streaming Might Be Key for New Listeners

Those of us who are knee-deep in podcast feeds often forget that subscribing and listening is still pretty hard for the new listener. There are lots of folks working on all these new ideas for discovery and recommendations – that is, finding ways for existing listeners to listen to more – but I think we often forget that getting brand new people into podcasting is a win-win for everyone.

The idea of downloading an episode, and then listening to it, managing storage space on your phone, the conceptually heavy idea of “subscribing”, are all things that put off curious new listeners. The recent app ‘sodes got some coverage this week and it aims to solve exactly this, with a super-simple interface that won’t appeal to you or me but would be great for the first time listeners. Chance Miller writing for 9to5Mac:

While traditional podcast applications are centered primarily around the idea of subscribing to a show and having new episodes downloaded as they become available, the goal of ’sodes is to let users listen to podcasts when they want, without having to manage subscriptions or a download queue.

And of course there is Spotify. Tucked in this week’s HotPod from Nick Quah was this:

“I’m a heavy user of Spotify for podcast listening, mostly because it works better with my data plan and I often spend huge chunks of the day without Wifi.”

I’m starting to think that streaming might be the key to pulling in those new listeners. I remember complaining when Spotify first introduced podcasts that they treated them like music: manual offlining, no auto download but maybe my thinking was upside down. Maybe I should have thought: “Hey how podcast consumption works is confusing, making it more like streaming music (which is something nearly everyone understands) is actually a better way?”

There are a few of us who love the old ways – the comforting nostalgia of managing your subscriptions in iTunes and syncing them to your iPod. Caroline Crampton writes in this week’s No Complaints newsletter:

I found an iPod Classic on eBay for about £80. I plugged it into my laptop and spent a very enjoyable hour resurrecting my iTunes podcast database, and then synced my shows. That was a few weeks ago now, and I don’t miss my podcast app at all.

Now where did I leave my Zune?