Podcasting Taking Off Slowly … But Certainly

There is a lot of buzz around pod­cast­ing these days. Last Decem­ber, the edi­tors of the New Oxford Amer­i­can Dic­tio­nary select­ed “pod­cast” as the word of the year (and they defined it as “a dig­i­tal record­ing of a radio broad­cast or sim­i­lar pro­gram, made avail­able on the Inter­net for down­load­ing to a per­son­al audio play­er”). Since then, the chat­ter has only picked up. How­ev­er, just how many peo­ple reg­u­lar­ly down­load and use pod­casts is a some­what dif­fer­ent sto­ry.

This week, the Pew Inter­net & Amer­i­can Life Project issued a new study show­ing that pod­cast­ing has­n’t quite been inte­grat­ed into the fab­ric of every­day life. Although 12% of those sur­veyed have down­loaded a pod­cast at some point, only 1% do so on a dai­ly basis. That’s a far cry (in terms of fre­quen­cy) from how peo­ple use their cell phones, TVs and the Inter­net.

Despite these low num­bers, I strong­ly sus­pect that dai­ly pod­cast usage will inex­orably climb in the com­ing few years. Just think about it. Over 20 mil­lion Amer­i­cans now own an iPod or mp3 play­er, and those fig­ures will almost cer­tain­ly con­tin­ue to rise. The ever-increas­ing num­ber of iPod/mp3 own­ers will get more com­fort­able adding con­tent to their play­ers. And broad­cast­ers will con­tin­ue the trend of using sites like iTunes as an alter­na­tive means of dis­trib­ut­ing their con­tent. Fast for­ward a few years, and here’s what you’ll have: A coun­try awash with iPods and dig­i­tal con­tent, and a nation of con­sumers who real­ize that they can use their mp3 play­ers to access content/information ful­ly on-demand. You’ll be able to access what­ev­er con­tent you want (no mat­ter how spe­cif­ic your inter­est), wher­ev­er you want, when­ev­er you want, with­out com­mer­cials and often for free. Con­tent with­out com­pro­mis­es. Who would want to miss out on that?

Check out Open Cul­ture’s Uni­ver­si­ty Pod­cast Col­lec­tion

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.