Is podcasting part of a digital media bubble that is due to implode?
Although it is impossible to predict the future, in a word I would say “no.” Podcasting is here to stay as a viable media tool although the landscape of the medium will change. At the same time, for the time being I would be remiss not to acknowledge that there is an overabundance of podcasts.
Podcasting is going through what the blogosphere did over ten years ago. At first there was such a hunger for articles and information that was an alternative from magazines and newspapers, that everybody jumped on the blog bandwagon. Contained in the inundation of blogs were poorly written posts and frivolous content. There is still no shortage of blogs but the cream has risen to the top in many cases by the most talented and consistent bloggers. Not to mention many of the people who were blogging about their morning breakfast a decade ago are now taking pictures of their toast over on Facebook.
We have that dynamic now with podcasting. The podcast medium is over-crowded and many podcasts have poor sound quality and production value. Furthermore, I certainly do not know how some podcasters come up with their show ideas. I would need a hit of acid to listen to an hour long podcast about ten things to use a condom for other than its intended use. Since I am strongly anti-drug, suffice it to say the likelihood of me medicating myself through that type of content is pretty slim.
The novelty of this type of podcast is sure to wear off and in time the crowded podcast field will level off. In my opinion there are three things that will keep podcasting, in essence, alive for a good while into the future.
For one, the good thing about many different creators being attracted to podcasting is that a good diverse talent base is also expanding, which will only serve a growing audience. The audience itself is becoming much savvier in terms of what constitutes good production value and content. Screwball shows can have a viable share of the marketplace as well but will have to up their game on par with professionally produced comedy shows and radio programs.
Second, the landscape for digital media regarding content marketing is enormous and the demographics for podcasting are possibly wide open depending on the subject matter. A big advantage of podcasts over video or written blogs is that they do not require your complete attention. A busy listener who is juggling a career and family can easily listen to an episode while doing pretty much anything else simultaneously. As big businesses and their marketing divisions are realizing the new potential to build a bridge of good content to their client base by utilizing podcasts, investment in the medium will likely propagate.
Thirdly, the utilization of audio only in general is increasing rapidly. Audio streaming devices in the home are already very common and as internet enabled cars are also on their way to becoming a norm, a loftier potential to reach a large audience is being set in place. The day is coming when while on your way to work, you can simply ask your car’s dashboard how your local councilperson is planning to vote on an upcoming issue and within a few seconds you will hear his or her voice. From this aspect alone I have been advocating the idea that building a reservoir of audio content online is a good idea for many people who need to get the word out about what they do.
Predictions about the rise or fall of podcasting have been happening every year especially since 2012 when the medium’s popularity began to soar. My opinion is that the rage will level off but podcasting and especially audio content in various forms is here to stay.
In the meantime I hope that the sheer number of podcasts do not hurt the brilliant shine of the medium. There was a time when telling someone that you had a blog was met with a deep sigh because of the saturated blogosphere. For the serious practitioners of podcasting the best advice I can give you is to stay consistent, don’t try to compete with every new podcast that comes along, and be sure to serve your loyal audience members with great content.
We’ll just have to wait for the dust to settle around us.