My (mostly) unedited reactions to a recent Fast Company article called Is Howl The ‘Netflix Of Podcasting’ We’ve Been Waiting For?
1.) No one’s been waiting for a “Netflix of Podcasting.” Any app with access to a directory of podcasts (in other words, pretty much all of them) is already a “Netflix of Podcasting.”
2.) People who are “generally into podcasts” already know how to listen to them. They already have easy access to whatever they want to listen to.
3.) No single platform can or will “blow up the audience for podcasts.” A platform that puts content that can easily be found for free behind a paywall seems even less likely to do this.
4.) Podcasts have been proliferating for twice as long as “five plus years.”
5.) “iTunes is an à la carte experience” that allows users to collect all of the podcasts they want in one location. But somehow it isn’t a “true one-stop, all-you-can-eat shop” for podcast consumption. True, some podcasts aren’t listed in the iTunes directory but they can still be manually added fairly easily to the application’s podcast aggregator.
6.) Howl is a product of Earwolf/Midroll and will contain all of the Earwolf shows along with “licensed” content like Marc Maron’s WTF. I’m unsure how a tightly curated list of shows will “build a model to advance the medium as a whole.”
7.) “$4.99 per month… at launch, Howl includes access to the full archives of every show on the network plus WTF and a large library of Comedy Central specials, behind-the-scenes photos from each episode, and host commentary and Twitter streams.” Adding premium content thru a paid subscription is a nice touch. It’s a process that more podcasters would use if it were easy to implement.
8.) “One limiting factor is that if you want to create a viable podcast, you really need to create a show that is long running, has a cost structure where the costs can stay relatively low and you can do 30-50 episodes per year, build up an audience, get ad sponsorships.” At least he didn’t say you could become rich overnight by starting a podcast. Granted, most shows probably won’t reach a point where they can get a Midroll sponsorship even if they publish 50 (or more) episodes in the first year.
9.) “We have documentaries that are a single episode of an hour and five minutes long, and there is only going to be a single episode… You could never afford to make an audio documentary that was just an hour long because you would never be able to monetize that with ads.” A good point here, when you’re creating content for the sole purpose of monetization. But, if Howl’s subscription revenue will help to fund things that are experimental in nature, that could be good. But then, if that content is only available to Howl subscribers, is it truly “advancing” the medium?
10.) “You still get people that just aren’t in the habit of listening to podcasts… They always say, ‘I’m late to the party…’ I think access is a big thing, and it’s really one of the few mediums where there’s a huge possibility for growth.” We’ve been saying this since 2005. But somehow, a closed platform with a relatively small catalog is going to bring podcasts to the masses?