A mic ready for a podcasting sesh

Podcasting news round-up

A quick round-up of stories about Podcasting, from Apple's analytics change, to some cool new mics from Røde.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth
This is a one-off post, rounding up some interesting podcasting stories, based on a “news review” I did with the MA Podcasting students. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Apple Sauce: making podcast figures more accurate

When you're busy researching a whole new podcasting-centric version of your Audience Strategy module, the last thing you need is an email dropping into your in-box saying “the incredible shrinking podcast industry”.

But that's exactly what Semafor did to me, the absolute cads.

Here's the reason I'll let them off, though: it's not actually shrinking. Apple's just punctured some vanity metrics. Doing good analytics on podcasts has always been hard, because the underlying RSS-based mechanism of podcast delivery means it's hard to get any accurate sense of listens. And so we've used downloads as a proxy. But people can download podcasts without ever listening to them.

Apple Podcasts now stops automatically downloading podcasts if you haven't really been listening to it. And some big podcasts appear to have been hard hit:

But while few users noticed the shift, some of the biggest podcasts in the world saw their official listener numbers drop dramatically. Long-running shows that publish frequently were hit particularly hard. 

If you're selling ads based on downloads, that has got to hurt.

The incredible shrinking podcast industry | Semafor
A change in how Apple counts and tracks how many people are listening to podcasts is sending shock waves through the industry.

That said, all you're losing is people who aren't actually listening to your podcast.

And, as Steve Goldstein wrote for Amplifi Media:

Indeed, there has been a drop. The Verge reported that measurement service Podtrac showed a decline of as much as 24% in download numbers year-over-year. Importantly, what didn’t change were actual listens to podcasts. Listens continue to rise, and yet articles in several publications forecast trouble in the land of podcasting.

This is just a painful transition to more accurate metrics, and away from vanity measures.

The Truth About Podcasting’s Measurement Makeover — amplifi media
Every media business has measurement oddities and quirks. Podcasting is doing something about theirs.

Getting young people right in the ears

Yet another legacy news organisation trying to get “the yoof” interested in news. This time, it's BBC News with the delightfully-named podcast Reliable Sauce. Mmm. Love a good journalism pun.

Certainly podcasting seems like a format that might well appeal to youngsters, and the format — two people chatting about the news casually, seems right.

My problem? The average length of these is just under 30 minutes, and they're publishing once a week. I'm not convinced that this is the right length — or frequency. Five to 10 minutes daily? Sure. But not this.

Young people are giving up on BBC News. A new podcast is helping try to get them back
“It’s quite lazy to say that young people don’t care about news.”

The AI Podcaster?

This is enough to send a chill through you. Want to give your readers audio versions of your articles? Don't bother with those annoying humans; just get AI to do the work:

Working with Schibsted Product Manager Lena Beate Pedersen, the BeyondWords team developed a custom AI voice based on Schibsted podcast host, Anne Lindholm. Teien said the team wanted “familiarity with a voice that users already know.” In fact, studies show that resonance and comprehension improve when listening to a voice with a familiar accent or voice.

This is slightly sinister. Sure, parasocial relationships are what makes many podcasts work — but creating them with AI clones of a real person's voice?

Still, it might be the most cost effective solution for making all your articles available as audio, freeing up your human talent to create better and more engaging podcasts.

Schibsted finds success with AI audio
Looking to deepen engagement with its journalism and attract younger audiences, Schibsted recently turned to audio articles.

Triple Toys: the dual Wireless ME

Wireless ME black and white versions

Røde's Wireless ME has become the accessible wireless mic of choice for many. What's better than one wireless mic? Two, obviously, and with the dual pack available in the spring, that's what you can have. Dual-channels mean you can use both microphones simultaneously:

It is also the only wireless microphone with a mic built into the receiver for recording audio from in front of and behind the camera simultaneously, making it ideal for capturing interviews or voice overs for video content.

In fact, with the receiver also acting as a mic, in theory you could use this for on-location recording of three-ways.

And talking of on-location recording…

Election podcast season is on us

I love the header of a recent Podnews email:

That's Brad Mielke, the host of ABC News’ flagship daily podcast Start Here, seen making the very most of everything in his hotel room to create a piece of high quality audio.

I love this stuff. Having the kit in your bag and the skills in your noggin to make high quality multimedia journalism anywhere is my vibe.

Election season starts for podcasting
We predict a run on pillows and soft blankets
podcastinganalyticsmobile journalism

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.