Podcasting continues to grow and 2013 is no exception. Here is a 2013 podcasting year in review.
Ongoing podcasting growth
2013 showed many areas of podcasting that continue to grow. These aren't unique to 2013, but they all show that the podcasting industry and distribution method is reaching more people and bringing more success.
- Celebrities and traditional media getting into podcasting
- The “nobodies” finding huge success in podcasting (think of John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire, but there are many more similar stories—check out our Podcasters' Roundtable with John)
- Podcast hosting companies coming and going
- Podcasting service providers starting up and filling needs for content creators
- Mobile apps for podcast consumption or production
- Simpler workflows with service providers, apps, or other processes
- Increasing podcast consumption, confirmed by Pew Research in “Over a quarter of internet users download or listen to podcasts“
- Podcasting courses like those from Cliff Ravenscraft, David Jackson, or my own Podcast Master Class
- Discovery algorithms are continuously being revised, and new apps like Swell try to help podcast-listeners find other podcasts they'll like
- Podcast networks continue to rise and fall, but overall are growing
Aside from these ongoing things, are are the top 10 game-changing events that affected podcasting in 2013.
10. Google Reader retired, FeedBurner offered permanent redirects
Google Reader was a popular RSS reader, but Google retired Reader completely because not enough people were using the site. Most Google Reader users seemed to use it as a synchronization platform with other apps, like Feedly.
With Reader's retirement, this showed that Google may be getting out of the RSS business, but it also opened the door for other companies, like Feedly, to produce their own feed synchronization service that is now superior.
Google also silently enabled FeedBurner to have a permanent 301 redirect for deleted feeds. This means it's now a whole lot easier to leave FeedBurner (no more 15-day craziness).
I had predicted that Google would announce FeedBurner's retirement this year, but I ended up being wrong.
9. Stitcher started contributing to download stats
I recommend getting podcast stats from either Blubrry or LibSyn (use promo code “noodle” for a free month). But the old problem was that you could see all your download stats except for Stitcher. In 2013, Stitcher added a simple feature that will ping your media host when someone plays an episode. This means your Stitcher listens now show up as downloads in your media stats!
This is big because Stitcher is now a major player in the podcast space. They're now pioneers among the streaming audio content providers.
But the stats problem continues to exist with other providers who re-encode your content, such as Spreaker and iHeartRadio.
8. Podcast Awards at NMX and featured by iTunes
Having the Podcast Awards and New Media Expo together are validating each other. With NMX hosting the awards, it shows that NMX is the conference for new-media content-creators, especially podcasters.
Also, it brings new prestige and validity to the Podcast Awards. No longer is it just Todd Cochrane live-streaming the list of winners from his studio. Now, it's an actual ceremony with applause, speeches, laughter and tears, and you get to see the winners. It's just like other awards ceremonies.
(I know some people disagree with the Podcast Awards. But we should all realize that any time the peoples' choice is used, it becomes a popularity contest.)
I also believe 2013 was the first time Apple featured the award-winners in the podcasts section of iTunes.
7. YouTube and Google Hangouts on Air live-streaming
Neither YouTube or Google Hangouts on Air are podcasting. “Podcasting” is a specific description of one particular kind of technical distribution. Essentially, it's “downloadable media (audio, video, PDF, ePub) syndicated through an RSS feed (rich site summary) via the enclosure tag.”
Since “podcasting” is really just a distribution method, we can see ourselves as producing shows that we distribute across “new media”—YouTube, live-streaming, podcast, etc.
YouTube and Google Hangouts on Air are new tools that can help you produce a show much easier. Hangouts on Air has significantly increased its quality in 2013. But the big thing is that Google took lessons from Hangouts on Air and launched YouTube live-streaming, a great competitor to Livestream, Ustream, and similar.
It does require a little more work to qualify for YouTube live, but it may be worth it to you!
6. Skype almost killed some podcasts
The podcasting community started to panic earlier this year because Microsoft announced the retirement of a Skype Desktop API that allowed many call recorders to work so easily. I never addressed this because I had a hunch that wasn't the last word.
Sure enough, Microsoft retracted their decision and have promised more support for Desktop API, so call recording would continue to work.
Microsoft may ultimately shut down the call-recording API in favor of their own, probably premium, service.
5. Free OS upgrades and renting software
Two major companies made opposite but radical pricing and business-model changes in 2013:
- Adobe discontinued the ability to “purchase” their creative software in favor of a subscription model (called “software as service”) with Creative Cloud, and
- Apple released the latest upgrade to OS X (version 10.9 “Mavericks”) as a free upgrade.
The “software as service” model has been around for a while, and we've seen it in service contracts, and many WordPress plugins (like some of my favorites, BackupBuddy and Gravity Forms). But for a major company like Adobe to completely switch is huge and has benefits and disadvantages for everyone. But I'm essentially satisfied as it allows me to afford the entire Creative Suite, and others have the ability to rent powerful software for just a month at a time.
Apple shocked the world with their free price tag for OS X “Mavericks.” It probably hit Microsoft hard, since they continue to charge hundreds of dollars for Windows upgrades, depending on which flavor you want.
I think these two decisions will be inspirations for other companies to follow. We'll probably see more subscription-based pricing, as well as more free upgrades for major releases.
4. Audio podcasts came to radio apps
TuneIn and iHeartRadio are two popular “radio” apps that focused on bringing terrestrial radio (like AM and FM stations) to mobile devices for consumption from anywhere. iHeartRadio is even made by Clear Channel, the largest radio-station-owning company in the USA.
These popular radio apps started including audio podcasts in 2013. This means you could see your “amateur” content right next to million-dollar radio shows.
I think these companies are also realizing that we “amateurs” aren't so bad and provide some great content. By adding podcasts to these “radio” apps, they're positioning themselves as potentially the only audio-entertainment apps you need—music, news, sports, talk all in one app.
It's also significant that these apps are including only audio podcasts. Video has a great place on websites and especially on YouTube. But for mobile niche content, audio is really the king.
3. Podcasting gained more attention, again
Podcasting has been consistently growing since it started, but USA Today said in August, “Remember podcasting? It's back – and booming.” We had a fun Podcasters' Roundtable about this and our answer was essentially, “it never left!”
Jeff Bullas also did a case study on Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income, and Jeff called questioned if podcasting is “the hot new media trend.”
Chris Brogan (late 2012) founded PodCamps (the “unconference” originally designed for podcasters, alogn with Chris Penn and Whitney Hoffman). In late 2012, Chris Brogran got back into podcasting and predicted 2013 would be a major year for it.
At Social Media Marketing World, Michael Stelzner (from Social Media Examiner) called podcasting the next big thing of 2013.
Podcasting never left, but I think companies are realizing that it's a great distribution channel, and that the “amateur hour” (as Steve Jobs called it) is well produced, killer content that may even be competing with the big-company content.
2. Apple announced 1 billion podcast subscriptions
In July, Apple said they tracked 1 billion (1,000,000,000) podcast subscriptions in iTunes and the Podcasts app for iOS. For Apple to publish any number means they're proud of it and they recognize it as something special.
Certainly, this showed us that Apple is taking podcasting more seriously and leaving behind Steve Jobs' “amateur hour” label.
I've confirmed with Apple that they are invested in podcasts and have a team of people managing the podcast directory and supporting podcasters. Just look at how many emails and responses we receive from podcasts@Apple.com.
1. Podcasting patent claim
The biggest podcasting news item from 2013 is, unfortunately, the worst news. Personal Audio was granted a patent that seemed to describe podcasting, and they very quickly started suing the most profitable podcasters and sending legal letters to other successful podcasters. If you receive such a letter from Personal Audio, check with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Ultimately, I think the EFF now has a great case and collection of prior art, and we'll see this patent troll defeated.
But it has still shaken the podcasting industry and is worthy of the respect in addressing this seriously.
I think we'll be okay.
I think 2013 will be seen as a major turning point for podcasting and we'll only see more growth and success from here on out.
What do you think the podcasting highlights were in 2013? What do you think of each of these news items? Comment below!
- Send me your feedback for my upcoming episode from New Media Expo. I want to know one thing you accomplished in 2013 from podcasting, and one goal you have for your podcast in 2014.
- Space is still available for Podcast Master Class to advance your podcast from average to amazing.™
- I hope to see you in Las Vegas for New Media Expo!
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