Chapter 6. Audio Content Delivery through Podcasting

Audio on the Web is not new. Audio clips have been available on Web sites since the early days. But until recently, audio files weren't used much because they were difficult to locate and impossible to browse, and there was no easy way to get regular updates. The result was that most files were long—an hour or more—and people had no idea what was in them without actually listening. Not many did.

The transformation from static audio downloads to radio station–like podcasts, which are much more valuable to listeners (and also more valuable as marketing vehicles for organizations), occurred because of two developments. The first development was the ability to add audio feeds and notifications to RSS. This enables listeners who subscribe to an audio feed to download new updates soon after they are released. When audio content was liberated from the need for one large download and went instead to being offered as a series of continuous audio clips, the concept of shows took off. Hosts modeled their shows on radio, producing content on specific subjects catering to distinct audiences. But the podcasting business model is very different from broadcast radio. Radio spectrums can support only a finite number of stations, and radio signals have limited geographic range. To support the technical infrastructure of radio, broadcasters need large audiences and lots of advertising (or donors in the case of public radio) to pay the bills. Contrast ...

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