The Podcasting “Lines” Aren’t As Clear As Many Would Like Them To Be

Today the Oregonian (our local paper) finally published a sensible piece about Podcasting. Shout out to locals Anna, Jason, Tim and Josh for some well deserved press.

And, now that they got the term (finally) right, I'm starting to see this trend:

I predict in the next few weeks an increase in the ever popular “what is a real Podcast?” debate. I predict a lot of people will shout and scream. I hope we rise above it all. The technology, the opportunity and the permant change in the “traditional” media landscape are far more important than what we call this thing.

Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of Podcast related domain names that I paid good money for. I don't want the term to go away. I'm just calling it as I see it.

First, let's talk Ricky Gervais' Premium Podcast. Do a search in iTunes for Ricky in the Podcast area. You won't find season 2 – the Premium Podcast version. You'll find the “Promocast” – but no show. Open your search to Audiobooks and you'll find Season 2 – but no season 1. Search across everything and you'll find everything – but the Podcast isn't just a Podcast – at least as far as iTunes is considered. I know iTunes isn't everything, but they are more than 80% of the market.

Now, if you head over to Audible proper, “Ricky Gervais Show Season 2” is an option. Of course, the term “Podcast” can't be found anywhere. Audible's first Paid Podcast isn't being called a Podcast by Audible. I can imagine why, but have to point out that it only adds to the confusion. – the Audible Podcasting engine – has the promocast – but no mention of the Season 2 Podcast (or Season 1 for that matter). Again, Audible's baby isn't being utilized for all it is worth.

But it ain't just Ricky. I mentioned earlier that Rush Limbaugh will open up his stuff through iTunes. Will we be able to find the Podcast in iTunes search? I'll bet not.

What about the “Multi-Pass” option currently available for John Stewart and Stephen Colbert at Comedy Central? Is that a Podcast? Not really. You can't find it in Podcasts. Of course, if you search for Daily Show in iTunes, it takes you to an override page for the show. But once you've clicked through that – no mention of the term Podcast in relation to their paid subscription option.

Yet, isn't multi-pass everything we want in a paid Podcast? Pay once, automatically downloaded, we don't have to do anything, etc.? What am I missing?

And, let's admit it, in 4 or 5 years when Microsoft integrates Podcasting into Windows Media Player 47, the chances of them calling them Podcasts are slim to none. They too have a huge chunk of the market that will dictate what people call them.

So, questions …

Does this matter? What is a Podcast anyway? If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a noise? Is iTunes the OS that delivers us our content – be it Podcast, Audiobook, Music or Television? Will that little Music/Audiobooks/Podcasts/Video option in the upper left hand side of the screen go away? Has it already for all sakes and purposes? Is iPod the default client for the iTunes OS? Will Microsoft ever integrate Podcasts into Windows Media Player, or will they just hope that DRMd content is the only thing that people want to listen to? Will the “Indie Podders” quest to keep the name alive and kicking be the one thing that keeps them from grabbing a big slice of the timeshifted portable media pie?

Have a great weekend pondering these things.

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