Podcasting Audience/Defining Podcasting

Podcast IconThe Diffusion Group has released their report Podcasting Audience Continues to Grow, But Medium Poorly Defined by Marketers. Their findings include:

  • 11% of U.S. adult broadband internet users (about 12 million people) listen to podcasts at least once per month.
  • Among the users above, 68% use a portable player. 49% listen on a computer.
  • Users listen to an average of 5.4 podcasts per month on a portable player and an average of 4.7 on a computer.
  • Listeners subscribe to 4.1 different podcast feeds.
  • 70% of podcast listeners use iTunes for access.
  • Diffusion Group's prediction: The podcast audience will double in the next five years.
  • Holding back podcasting usage:
    • Podcasting is perceived as too complex for the average consumer to use.
    • Consumers are not aware of the quantity and quality of available podcasts.
    • People have a poor comprehension of podcasting because there is a lack of understanding of the term podcast.
The group who wrote the report also published Rethinking the Definition of Podcasting. The report compares definitions of podcast. It gets a bit technical, but defining podcast is important if we're to share them with students, parents, the community, and fellow educators. I have tweaked my definition for podcasting over the years. Currently, here's the definition I share with educators:
A podcast is audio or video on the Web that can be cataloged and automatically downloaded.
I've tried to keep the definition simple and non-technical. Of course, it's the RSS feed that makes it possible for a podcast to be cataloged in places like iTunes and Yahoo! Podcasts. The feed also enables software like iTunes to check for updates and to download new files.

I have been making an effort to refer to an individual podcast audio or video file as an episode, leaving the word podcast as a collective term encompassing all of its episodes. The report addresses podcast vs. episode:

The term “podcast” may also refer to a single file or episode of the podcast series – this is similar to how the term “show” (as in television show) can refer to either the series as a whole or only a single episode.
Whatever the vocabulary, it is important that people know that an iPod is not required. In fact, some podcasters have suggested changing the word to netcast. I don't think we'll be replacing the word podcast any time soon, so we need to help others understand the term podcast and what it can do for education.