Podcast

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The Serial podcast being played through the Pocket Casts app on an iPhone Serial Podcast.jpg
The Serial podcast being played through the Pocket Casts app on an iPhone

A podcast is a program made available in digital format for download over the Internet. [1] [2] [3] For example, an episodic series of digital audio or video files that a user can download to a personal device to listen to at a time of their choosing. Streaming applications and podcasting services provide a convenient and integrated way to manage a personal consumption queue across many podcast sources and playback devices. There also exist podcast search engines, which help users find and share podcast episodes. [4]

Contents

A podcast series usually features one or more recurring hosts engaged in a discussion about a particular topic or current event. Discussion and content within a podcast can range from carefully scripted to completely improvised. Podcasts combine elaborate and artistic sound production with thematic concerns ranging from scientific research to slice-of-life journalism. Many podcast series provide an associated website with links and show notes, guest biographies, transcripts, additional resources, commentary, and even a community forum dedicated to discussing the show's content.

The cost to the consumer is low, with many podcasts free to download. Some are underwritten by corporations or sponsored, with the inclusion of commercial advertisements. In other cases, a podcast could be a business venture supported by some combination of a paid subscription model, advertising or product delivered after sale. Because podcast content is often free, podcasting is often classified as a disruptive medium, adverse to the maintenance of traditional revenue models.

Podcasting is the preparation and distribution of audio files using RSS feeds to the computers of subscribed users. These files may then be uploaded to streaming services, which users can listen to on their smartphones or digital music and multimedia players, like an iPod.

As of August 7, 2022 there are at least 2,864,367 podcasts and 135,736,875 episodes. [5]

Production and listening

Podcasting studio in What Cheer Writers Club in Providence, Rhode Island Podcasting-wcwc.jpg
Podcasting studio in What Cheer Writers Club in Providence, Rhode Island

A podcast generator maintains a central list of the files on a server as a web feed that one can access through the Internet. The listener or viewer uses special client application software on a computer or media player, known as a podcast client, which accesses this web feed, checks it for updates, and downloads any new files in the series. This process can be automated to download new files automatically, so it may seem to listeners as though podcasters broadcast or "push" new episodes to them. Podcast files can be stored locally on the user's device, or streamed directly. There are several different mobile applications that allow people to follow and listen to podcasts. Many of these applications allow users to download podcasts or stream them on demand. Most podcast players or applications allow listeners to skip around the podcast and to control the playback speed. [6]

Podcasting has been considered a converged medium [7] (a medium that brings together audio, the web and portable media players), as well as a disruptive technology that has caused some individuals in radio broadcasting to reconsider established practices and preconceptions about audiences, consumption, production and distribution. [8]

Podcasts can be produced at little to no cost and are usually disseminated free-of-charge, which sets this medium apart from the traditional 20th-century model of "gate-kept" media and their production tools. [8] Podcasters can, however, still monetize their podcasts by allowing companies to purchase ad time. They can also garner support from listeners through crowdfunding websites like Patreon, which provide special extras and content to listeners for a fee.

Etymology

"Podcast" is a portmanteau of "iPod" and "broadcast". [9] [10] [11] The earliest use of "podcasting" was traced to The Guardian columnist and BBC journalist Ben Hammersley, [12] who coined it in early February 2004 while writing an article for The Guardian newspaper. [13] The term was first used in the audioblogging community in September 2004, when Danny Gregoire introduced it in a message to the iPodder-dev mailing list, [14] [15] from where it was adopted by podcaster Adam Curry. [16] Despite the etymology, the content can be accessed using any computer or similar device that can play media files. The term "podcast" predates Apple's addition of podcasting features to the iPod and the iTunes software. [17] Some sources have suggested the backronym "portable on demand" [18] or "play on demand" [19] for POD to avoid the loose reference to the iPod. This usage has been criticized as a retcon by tech blogger John Gruber. [20]

History

In October 2000, the concept of attaching sound and video files in RSS feeds was proposed in a draft by Tristan Louis. [21] The idea was implemented by Dave Winer, a software developer and an author of the RSS format. [22]

Podcasting, once an obscure method of spreading audio information, has become a recognized medium for distributing audio content, whether for corporate or personal use. Podcasts are similar to radio programs in form, but they exist as audio files that can be played at a listener's convenience, anytime and anywhere. [23]

The first application to make this process feasible was iPodderX, developed by August Trometer and Ray Slakinski. [24] By 2007, audio podcasts were doing what was historically accomplished via radio broadcasts, which had been the source of radio talk shows and news programs since the 1930's. This shift occurred as a result of the evolution of internet capabilities along with increased consumer access to cheaper hardware and software for audio recording and editing. [25]

In August 2004, Adam Curry launched his show Daily Source Code . It was a show focused on chronicling his everyday life, delivering news, and discussions about the development of podcasting, as well as promoting new and emerging podcasts. Curry published it in an attempt to gain traction in the development of what would come to be known as podcasting and as a means of testing the software outside of a lab setting. The name Daily Source Code was chosen in the hope that it would attract an audience with an interest in technology. [26] [27] Daily Source Code started at a grassroots level of production and was initially directed at podcast developers. As its audience became interested in the format, these developers were inspired to create and produce their own projects and, as a result, they improved the code used to create podcasts. As more people learned how easy it was to produce podcasts, a community of pioneer podcasters quickly appeared. [28]

In June 2005, Apple released iTunes 4.9 which added formal support for podcasts, thus negating the need to use a separate program in order to download and transfer them to a mobile device. Although this made access to podcasts more convenient and widespread, it also effectively ended advancement of podcatchers by independent developers. Additionally, Apple issued cease and desist orders to many podcast application developers and service providers for using the term "iPod" or "Pod" in their products' names. [29]

The logo used by Apple to represent podcasting in Apple Podcasts. Podcasts (iOS).svg
The logo used by Apple to represent podcasting in Apple Podcasts.

Within a year, many podcasts from public radio networks like the BBC, CBC Radio One, NPR, and Public Radio International placed many of their radio shows on the iTunes platform. In addition, major local radio stations like WNYC in New York City, WHYY-FM radio in Philadelphia, and KCRW in Los Angeles placed their programs on their websites and later on the iTunes platform.[ citation needed ] Concurrently, CNET, This Week in Tech , and later Bloomberg Radio, the Financial Times , and other for-profit companies provided podcast content, some using podcasting as their only distribution system.[ citation needed ]

As of early 2019, the podcasting industry still generated little overall revenue, [30] although the number of persons who listen to podcasts continues to grow steadily. Edison Research, which issues the Podcast Consumer quarterly tracking report, estimates that in 2019, 90 million persons in the U.S. have listened to a podcast in the last month. [31] As of 2020, 58% of the population of South Korea and 40% of the Spanish population had listened to a podcast in the last month. 12.5% of the UK population had listened to a podcast in the last week and 22% of the United States population listens to at least one podcast weekly. [32] The form is also acclaimed for its low overhead for a creator to start and maintain their show, merely requiring a good-quality microphone, a computer or mobile device and associated software to edit and upload the final product, and some form of acoustic quieting. Podcast creators tend to have a good listener base because of their relationships with the listeners. [33]

IP issues in trademark and patent law

Trademark applications

Between February March 10 and 25, 2005, Shae Spencer Management, LLC of Fairport, New York filed a trademark application to register the term "podcast" for an "online prerecorded radio program over the internet". On September 9, 2005, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rejected the application, citing Wikipedia's podcast entry as describing the history of the term. The company amended their application in March 2006, but the USPTO rejected the amended application as not sufficiently differentiated from the original. In November 2006, the application was marked as abandoned. [34]

Apple trademark protections

On September 26, 2004, it was reported that Apple Inc. had started to crack down on businesses using the string "POD", in product and company names. Apple sent a cease and desist letter that week to Podcast Ready, Inc., which markets an application known as "myPodder". [35] Lawyers for Apple contended that the term "pod" has been used by the public to refer to Apple's music player so extensively that it falls under Apple's trademark cover. [36] Such activity was speculated to be part of a bigger campaign for Apple to expand the scope of its existing iPod trademark, which included trademarking "IPOD", "IPODCAST", and "POD". [37] On November 16, 2006, the Apple Trademark Department stated that "Apple does not object to third-party usage of the generic term 'podcast' to accurately refer to podcasting services" and that "Apple does not license the term". However, no statement was made as to whether or not Apple believed they held rights to it. [38]

Personal Audio lawsuits

Personal Audio, a company referred to as a "patent troll" by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), [39] filed a patent on podcasting in 2009 for a claimed invention in 1996. [40] In February 2013, Personal Audio started suing high-profile podcasters for royalties, [39] including The Adam Carolla Show and the HowStuffWorks podcast. [41] In October 2013, the EFF filed a petition with the US Trademark Office to invalidate the Personal Audio patent. [42] On August 18, 2014, the EFF announced that Adam Carolla had settled with Personal Audio. [43] Finally, in April 10, 2015, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office invalidated five provisions of Personal Audio's podcasting patent. [44]

Types of podcasts

Podcasts vary in style, format, and topical content. Podcasts are partially patterned on previous media genres but depart from them systematically in certain computationally observable stylistic respects. [45] [46] The conventions and constraints which govern that variation are emerging and vary over time and markets; podcast listeners have various preferences of styles but conventions to address them and communicate about them are still unformed. [47] [48] Some current examples of types of podcasts are given below. This list is likely to change as new types of content, new technology to consume podcasts, and new use cases emerge. [49]

Enhanced podcasts

An enhanced podcast, also known as a slidecast, is a type of podcast that combines audio with a slide show presentation. It is similar to a video podcast in that it combines dynamically-generated imagery with audio synchronization, but it is different in that it uses presentation software to create the imagery and the sequence of display separately from the time of the original audio podcast recording. [50] [51] The Free Dictionary, YourDictionary, and PC Magazine define an enhanced podcast as "an electronic slide show delivered as a podcast". [52] [53] [54] Enhanced podcasts are podcasts that incorporate graphics and chapters. [55] [56] [57] [58] iTunes developed an enhanced podcast feature called "Audio Hyperlinking" that they patented in 2012. [59] [60] [61] Enhanced podcasts can be used by businesses or in education. [62] [63] [64] Enhanced podcasts can be created using QuickTime AAC or Windows Media files. [65] Enhanced podcasts were first used in 2006. [66]

Fiction podcast

A fiction podcast (also referred to as a "scripted podcast" or "narrative podcast") is similar to a radio drama, but in podcast form. They deliver a fictional story, usually told over multiple episodes and seasons, using multiple voice actors, dialogue, sound effects, and music to enrich the story. [67] Fiction podcasts have attracted a number of well-known actors as voice talents, including Demi Moore & Matthew McConaughey [68] as well as from content producers like Netflix, Spotify, Marvel, and DC Comics. [69] [70] [71] While science-fiction and horror are quite popular, fiction podcasts cover a full range of literary genres from romance, comedy, and drama to fantasy, sci-fi, and detective fiction. Examples of fiction podcasts include The Bright Sessions , The Magnus Archives , Homecoming , Wooden Overcoats , We're Alive and Wolverine: The Long Night .

Podcast novels

A podcast novel (also known as a "serialized audiobook" or "podcast audiobook") is a literary form that combines the concepts of a podcast and an audiobook. Like a traditional novel, a podcast novel is a work of literary fiction; however, it is recorded into episodes that are delivered online over a period of time. The episodes may be delivered automatically via RSS or through a website, blog, or other syndication method. Episodes can be released on a regular schedule, e.g., once a week, or irregularly as each episode is completed. In the same manner as audiobooks, some podcast novels are elaborately narrated with sound effects and separate voice actors for each character, similar to a radio play or scripted podcast, but many have a single narrator and few or no sound effects. [72]

Some podcast novelists give away a free podcast version of their book as a form of promotion. [73] On occasion such novelists have secured publishing contracts to have their novels printed. [74] Podcast novelists have commented that podcasting their novels lets them build audiences even if they cannot get a publisher to buy their books. These audiences then make it easier to secure a printing deal with a publisher at a later date. These podcast novelists also claim the exposure that releasing a free podcast gains them makes up for the fact that they are giving away their work for free. [75]

Video podcasts

A video podcast on the Crab Nebula created by NASA

A video podcast is a podcast that contains video content. Web television series are often distributed as video podcasts. Dead End Days, a serialized dark comedy about zombies released from October 31, 2003, through 2004, is commonly believed to be the first video podcast. [76]

Live podcasts

A number of podcasts are recorded either in total or for specific episodes in front of a live audience. Ticket sales allow the podcasters an additional way of monetizing. Some podcasts create specific live shows to tour which are not necessarily included on the podcast feed. Events including the London Podcast Festival, [77] SF Sketchfest [78] and others regularly give a platform for podcasters to perform live to audiences.

Technology

Software

Podcast episodes are widely stored and encoded in the mp3 digital audio format and then hosted on dedicated or shared webserver space. [79] [80] Syndication of podcasts' episodes across various websites and platforms is based on RSS feeds, an XML-formatted file citing information about the episode and the podcast itself. [79]

Hardware

The most basic equipment for a podcast is a computer and a microphone. It is helpful to have a sound-proof room and headphones. The computer should have a recording or streaming application installed. [81] Typical microphones for podcasting are connected using USB. [82] [83] If the podcast involves two or more people, each person requires a microphone, and a USB audio interface is needed to mix them together. If the podcast includes video (livestreaming), then a separate webcam might be needed, and additional lighting. [82]

See also

Related Research Articles

iPod Discontinued line of portable media players by Apple

The iPod is a discontinued series of portable media players and multi-purpose mobile devices designed and marketed by Apple Inc. The first version was released on October 23, 2001, about 8+12 months after the Macintosh version of iTunes was released. Apple sold an estimated 450 million iPod products as of 2022. Apple discontinued the iPod product line on May 10, 2022. At 20 years, the iPod brand is the oldest to be discontinued by Apple.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">High-Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding</span> Audio codec

High-Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding (HE-AAC) is an audio coding format for lossy data compression of digital audio defined as an MPEG-4 Audio profile in ISO/IEC 14496–3. It is an extension of Low Complexity AAC (AAC-LC) optimized for low-bitrate applications such as streaming audio. The usage profile HE-AAC v1 uses spectral band replication (SBR) to enhance the modified discrete cosine transform (MDCT) compression efficiency in the frequency domain. The usage profile HE-AAC v2 couples SBR with Parametric Stereo (PS) to further enhance the compression efficiency of stereo signals.

The multinational technology corporation Apple Inc. has been a participant in various legal proceedings and claims since it began operation and, like its competitors and peers, engages in litigation in its normal course of business for a variety of reasons. In particular, Apple is known for and promotes itself as actively and aggressively enforcing its intellectual property interests. From the 1980s to the present, Apple has been plaintiff or defendant in civil actions in the United States and other countries. Some of these actions have determined significant case law for the information technology industry and many have captured the attention of the public and media. Apple's litigation generally involves intellectual property disputes, but the company has also been a party in lawsuits that include antitrust claims, consumer actions, commercial unfair trade practice suits, defamation claims, and corporate espionage, among other matters.

Podcasts, previously known as "audioblogs", had its roots dating back to the 1980s. With the advent of broadband Internet access and portable digital audio playback devices such as the iPod, podcasting began to catch hold in late 2004. Today there are more than 115,000 English-language podcasts available on the Internet, and dozens of websites available for distribution at little or no cost to the producer or listener.

Podcasting refers to the creation and regular distribution of podcasts through the Internet. Podcasts, which can include audio, video, PDF, and ePub files, are subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device. Subscribers are then able to view, listen to, and transfer the episodes to a variety of media players, or podcatchers. Though similar to radio, there is no larger regulatory group or oversight with podcasts. Instead, podcasts simply consist of the creators and their listeners. As the technology gained popularity in the early 2000s, the uses of podcasting grew from simply the delivery of content to also creative and responsive purposes.

The Parsec Awards were a set of annual awards created to recognize excellence in science fiction podcasts and podcast novels. The awards were created by Mur Lafferty, Tracy Hickman and Michael R. Mennenga and awarded by FarPoint Media. They were first presented in 2006 at DragonCon. In 2009 the awards were described as "one of the most recognizable honors in science and fiction podcasting". The awards were given from 2006 to 2018.

Mevio

Mevio Inc. was an American internet entertainment network, founded in San Francisco, California in October 2004 by Adam Curry and Ron Bloom.

Spotify (/ˈspɒtɪfaɪ/) is a proprietary Swedish audio streaming and media services provider founded on 23 April 2006 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon. It is one of the largest music streaming service providers, with over 433 million monthly active users, including 188 million paying subscribers, as of June 2022. Spotify is listed on the New York Stock Exchange in the form of American depositary receipts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Apple Books</span> E-book application by Apple

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<i>99% Invisible</i> Radio program and podcast on design

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Personal Audio LLC is a Beaumont, Texas-based company that enforces and earns licensing revenue from five patents. The company has often been accused of being a patent troll, making money solely through royalties on frivolous and sweeping patents.

<i>Reply All</i> (podcast) American podcast from Gimlet Media

Reply All is an American podcast from Gimlet Media that ran from 2014 to 2022, featuring stories about how people shape the internet, and how the internet shapes people. It was created by P. J. Vogt and Alex Goldman, who were the show's original hosts; they had previously hosted the technology and culture podcast TLDR for WNYC. Emmanuel Dzotsi became a third cohost in 2020.

<i>Lore</i> (podcast) History podcast by Aaron Mahnke

Lore is a documentary podcast on topics such as folklore, legends, and historical events, often with a focus on the macabre. Each episode examines historical events or ancient/urban legends that show the dark side of human nature, and is presented in a style that's been compared to a campfire experience. The series was created in 2015 by Aaron Mahnke as a marketing experiment and received the iTunes "Best of 2015" Award. The podcast was also given the award for the "Best History Podcast" by the Academy of Podcasters in July 2016. At the end of 2016, the podcast was included in the top lists by The Atlantic and Entertainment Weekly. As of October 2017, the series has 5 million monthly listeners.

<i>The Daily</i> (podcast) News podcast by The New York Times

The Daily is a daily news podcast produced by the American newspaper The New York Times, hosted by Michael Barbaro and Sabrina Tavernise. Its weekday episodes are based on the Times reporting of the day, with interviews of journalists from The New York Times. Episodes typically last 20 to 30 minutes.

<i>Casefile</i> Australian true crime podcast

Casefile True Crime Podcast, or simply Casefile, is an Australian crime podcast that first aired in January 2016 and is hosted by an Australian man who remains anonymous. The podcast is released on a Sunday (EST) for three consecutive weeks, with a break on the fourth week. The series deals with solved or cold criminal cases, often related to well-known murders and serial crimes. Many early episodes relate to Australian cases, although notable crimes from the UK and the US are increasingly featured, and well-known cases from other countries have also been included. Unlike a number of similar podcasts, the series is scripted and narrative, relying primarily on original police or mass-media documents, eyewitness accounts, and interview or public announcement recordings. Larger and more-complex cases have received multiple-week serialised broadcasts, and case updates to previously aired cases are also provided from time to time. The series has been well received, and has won a number of awards since its debut.

<i>Twenty Thousand Hertz</i> Podcast about sound design

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<i>Waveform</i> (podcast) Technology podcast hosted by Marques Brownlee

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A fantasy podcast is a podcast related to or discussing the fantasy genre, which usually focuses on the magical, supernatural, mythical, or folkloric. Fantasy stories are set in fictional universes or fantasy worlds that are often reminiscent of the middle Ages and the early modern period. Despite having a fictional setting, fantasy stories can contain or reference locations, events, or people from the real world. Characters in these stories often encounter fictional creatures such as dwarves, elves, dragons, and fairies. Common types of fantasy podcasts are audio dramas, narrated short stories, role-playing games, or discussions and reviews of fantasy topics such as fantasy films, books, games, and other media. The intended audience of a fantasy podcast can vary from young children to adults. Fantasy podcasts emerged from storytelling and the creation of the radio. Fantasy podcasts have often been adapted into television programs, graphic novels, and comics. Fantasy podcasts are a subgenre of fiction podcasts and are distinguished from science fiction podcasts and horror podcasts by the absence of scientific or macabre themes, respectively, though these subgenres regularly overlap.

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