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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The casting of the pod

I know that continuity is the most important thing with blogging, so I want to issue a mea culpa for not upholding 802 Online's regularly scheduled programming. Whereas Cathy usually posts once a day, I've eked out two posts in a week! That said, though, I have a bunch of stuff in the pipeline now, so things should move more smoothly between now and Ms. Resmer's official return.

Throne01_sm In the meta-media-saturated blogosphere, I'm a bit behind the eight ball with this story, given that it was first posted on Monday and Slashdotted  later that day. But I think it's worth noting that earlier this week, The Ricky Gervais Show's  British comedy-variety podcast went to a pay-per-month subscription model. The offer is up now, and service starts February 28.

Arguably, this isn't all that new; NPR's been offering downloadable shows on a pay-per-episode basis via Audible.com for years (streaming is usually free). There's also no increased functionality from podcasting's main platform: individual podcasters still don't have a way to sell their own content directly through iTunes. This just seems to be the first time an independent producer has moved away from a donation model. Gervais already has a lot of recognition as a creator of NBC's "The Office," and media support from The Guardian, the UK paper that's consistently won awards for the best online daily newspaper. (The Guardian also publishes a print edition, the only full-color paper in the UK.) He's not exactly your average joe.

It'll be interesting to see how this pans out. Will the majority of podcasts continue to be labors of love, made and distributed for free (albeit with lots of ads in some cases, à la  central-Vermont expat and liberal talk radio host Thom Hartmann's progressive programs), or will subscriptions become more common? Should we care?

Any of the Friday Coffeebloggers care to offer their two cents?

February 22, 2006 at 06:01 PM | Permalink


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I think there's a lot of stuff to think about here.

Basically we have a well-known guy going from free podcast distributed by iTunes to paid podcast via audible.com distributed again by iTunes.

What I see is a guy smartly using iTunes to develop a listener base and then taking it commercial. No harm there, even famous people must have a bill or two to pay.

It would be interesting to know how difficult it is to get a show into audible.com (i.e. whats the barrier to entry for a regular schmoe?).

Also, tying into this is the end of kottke.org as a donation blog (no sign he's going to shutter it or charge subscriptions, only that he isn't going to beg for handouts anymore). This, I think, is pretty interesting too.


Posted by: gahlord Dewald | Feb 22, 2006 7:41:17 PM

Yeah, I agree with Gahlord's take on the Gervais thing. I doubt very much that it signals a sea change in the way podcasting works. He's a celebrity and is charging for his content because he can (and because it's an amazingly great show). The vast majority of podcasters make up the long tail of the curve and will never be able to do it for money, which is a good thing because the free, anyone-can-do-it nature of podcasts is why they're so cool in the first place.

As with blogging, there's no business model for podcasting. Those who are lucky enough to be in a position to sell their content are few. The rest of us keep doing it because it's fun.

Posted by: Bill Simmon | Feb 22, 2006 8:20:54 PM

Yeah, I agree with Bill's last comment, some of us do it for fun.

My husband, Jeremy, and I started our local podcast after coming up with an idea to record our discussions about reflecting on the Burlington meetings we attend.
We've temporarily stopped the show due to his City Council campaign:


But we hope to have it started up again soon :-)
I encourage everyone to try podcasting, as it's a great way to express your opinions... heck, even Channel 17's started to offer podcasts as well!

Posted by: Heavenly Ryan | Feb 23, 2006 9:42:34 AM

Sorry to hijack the thread, but if Ryan gets into the Council will you still do your podcast? This is an interesting topic to me.


Posted by: gahlord Dewald | Feb 27, 2006 4:44:14 PM

Yes, we still plan on keeping active with the podcast, regardless of the election results :)

Posted by: Heavenly Ryan | Feb 28, 2006 4:03:18 PM

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