This American Life is a radio program and produced by Public Radio International and WBEZ in Chicago, Ill. They are constantly a top rated podcast for both United States and Canada according to iTunes. But the popularity of this podcast has come at a price for the producers of this award winning show.
The bandwidth costs for the website thislife.org and feeds coming from the show is approximately $150,000 a year. This is a extra cost to the show that they don’t charge listeners for, they feel the show is more popular and better for it. The show is sponsored by Volkswagen and is casually mentioned at the end of the show, But according to Seth Lind, Production Manager for This American Life it is solely the users of the podcast who pay for the use of it. In his eyes it is a luxury to listen to the show when ever and where ever and twice a year there is a giving campaign by the show to collect funds from the podcast listeners.
“It’s true, last year we paid $152,000 for streaming and podcast bandwidth. The good news is, we recently added a fundraising message to our podcast, and in just two weeks we were able to raise enough money to pay for the whole year. It’s really heartening to know that listeners will step up and pay for something that they care about. We knew that with the pledge drive; that’s how public radio survives. But this shows that people value the ability to time-shift content enough to pay for the luxury. Given our podcast subscriber base, the bandwidth cost is less than 50 cents per person per year, so with any kind of serious participation, people don’t have to give much.” ~ Seth Lind, January 14, 2008 – Production Manager – This American Life ~
Part four will cover the future of podcasting and audio recording
It really wasn’t until June 28, 2005, when Apple incorporated podcasting into their now hugely popular iTunes platform that mainstream use could begin. Numbers range widely on just how many iTunes users there were at that time, but roughly their were between 25 million and 100 million users of the popular player.
Hits on Podcast
Sept. 28, 04
Oct 1, 04
Oct 18, 04
Sept, 28, 05
March, 28, 08
Immediately after the release of iTunes 4.9, some podcasters saw a triple and quadruple subscription to their podcast. Finally users could automatically download podcast and sync them directly with their portable device.
Apple is certainly not the inventor the podcast nor do they produce much content in the way of podcasting. But what they do and do very well is a place where the normal joe can in one click pick podcast and be able to consume when you want how you want. All the back end is provided by the podcaster and apple is only providing the directory to find it.
iTunes is also not the only directory for podcasts but it is certainly one of the biggest and it is a huge selling point for Apple to have this free directory available on their store.
But many podcasters suffered from their own success after Apple delivered podcasting to the mainstream, the bandwidth needed to keep up with demand became an increasing problem for some podcasters.
Claims by many service providers that they had unlimited bandwidth were met with anger and frustration by the like of Tikibartv.com a humors podcast about friends and cocktails. It was at one point the number one podcast in the United States, but keeping that number one spot was met with a lot of frustration as Kevin Gamble writes about in the tiki forum.
“I gotta be honest, when we started hunting for bandwidth, all sorts of places looked good (and we tried a few cheap ones in desperation) and by the time we got to Libsyn, I was a little jaded – lots of sites say “UNLIMITED BANDWIDTH!” but then they have this fine print that usually says “note: unlimited bandwidth does not include files of any kind”. Or something. So when we found Libsyn, I was like “suuuure, unlimited. We’ll see how long THAT lasts”. Well, we’re still here, and Libsyn hasn’t pulled the plug yet. So that’s why I’m plugging THEM. Because they’re nice and they keep us streaming! So if you want to start that all important cat-podcast… or… catcast… check out Libsyn No, we’re not sponsored. They’re just really nice guys and if they go offline we’ll be real sad.”
~ Kevin Gamble, November 20, 2005 Plays “Johnny Johnny” Head Bartender at the Tikibar tv ~
The industry responded by the creation of podcasting networks, Adam Curry, now named the godfather of the podcast, started one in October 2004 called Podshow Inc. (rebranded to the name Mevio in 2008) In August 2005 Podshow Inc. was given 8.85 millions dollars in venture capital and with in 12 months Podshow Inc. had raised 15 million in venture capital. These numbers aren’t small potatoes anymore, but what Podshow Inc. and many others have done is allowed husband and wife podcast teams like Geekbrief.tv to operate out of their own home and provided with server and bandwidth issues along with selling advertising to the show and providing support for sponsors.
Geekbrief.tv is based in Dallas, Texas and is operated by Luria Petrucci (aka Cali Lewis)and her Husband Neal Campbell (they divorced in 2010) out of their apartment. They use normal AT&T Broadband from home and work off MacPro’s in the home studio and the MacBook Pro on the road.
Cali Lewis is not her real name but both her and Neil thought they would have a problem with people remember and knowing Luria Petrucci. It is hard to know where Luria stops and Cali begins, but the podcast is created around a theme of the Cali Lewis presenting Geek Brief tips through the Geek Intelligence Agency, which is more or less the viewership of the show.
But that is really where the fantasy stops and the news broadcast begins; to be a show which bring happy shinny technology news to it 200,000 to 300,00 views four times a week for approximately 3 years which has developed into solid and creditable following around the world. The couples next project is to take their podcasting show on the road covering all 50 states (Don’t worry they are flying to Hawaii) in something called the big trip.
In the ever evolving world of digital media, podcasting is at the forefront of this current media revolution. People are consuming more and more information from the media on a daily basis, but most are missing their regularly scheduled program.
Yet, most are still able to watch their current shows, catch up on the latest tech news and serve up the best content then can through podcasting.
For those who don’t know what podcasting is, or where it got its name, well, you can thank Steve Jobs for some of that.
When he unveiled the iPod in October 23, 2001 it was heralded as an ultra portable device in a portable age; and the word iPod rolled off the tongue as easy as money flowed into apple coffers. It fit well into its strategy of iMac, iBook, brands. Podcasting borrowed from the name in that: one, it was portable and two, it was broadcasting or media. The name didn’t infringe on any trademarks owned by Apple and gave them free advertising.
Originally, podcasting was just in audio format and it was audio that had already been recorded and was now available for download on the internet. You had to, however, download each and every episode or file yourself and you were never really told when a new version of your favorite show was available. RSS feed syndication had been invented by Netscape in 1999 and was in use, podcasting, didn’t have widespread usage. Although podcasting now uses the RSS feed syndication thanks to Adam Curry who first made podcasting viable format of delivery.
But it was still difficult to get your podcast on your ipod. There were some applications (eg. iPodder was one, but is now named Juiced after a cease and desist letter from Apple over trademark license infringement) and most early adopters were tech savvy enough to make it work, but mainstream usage was still far away.