A popular digital media company said April 17 that it now distributes more podcasts than there are radio stations on the planet.
This highlights how podcasts are supplanting over-the-air radio broadcast in many peoples lives, according to a representative for FeedBurner, the Chicago-based firm that just passed the radio vs. podcast milestone.
Loosely defined, a podcast is an digital audio or audio-video recording played on iPods and other media players. A podcast can be downloaded and listened to at any time, in contrast to the scheduled-release basis on which broadcast radio usually works.
Podcasts are now routinely used by news agencies, business consultants, corporations, traditional radio stations and others connected to both the traditional and the Internet media.
FeedBurner now distributes 47,000 different podcasts, which means there are more podcasters than radio stations. And the rate at which new podcasters emerge on the scene has doubled in the last six months, the company said.
“Podcasting is no exception to the forms of media that are part of the long tail of millions of [Internet] content producers with readers, listeners and viewer numbers ranging anywhere between millions and zero,” a FeedBurner representative said.
Analysts arent as exuberant about podcasts, however, citing a variety of factors that include search engines failure so far to adequately adapt to the podcasting craze.
“Podcasting will get easier and the content will get better, but it will all take time,” wrote Forrester Research Principal Analyst Charlene Li, in Cambridge, Mass.
Yet Forrester also suggested some rather spectacular growth ahead. In a research report released April 10, Forrester said it expects the number of North American households that listen to podcasts to increase from the present-day estimate of 700,000 homes to 12.3 million by 2010.
Forrester said it also expects that in four years, about a third of those owning MP3 players will routinely be listening to podcasts.