IMA Conference: Podcasting & Mobilcasting Trends

Jason Georges, Webmaster, KCRW; Rob Greenlee, Sr. Marketing Manager, Mobilcast; Maria Thomas, VP/GM NPR Online; Moderator: Chris Pirillo

Jason Georges, Webmaster, KCRW

Bring Podcast Listeners Back

  • Challenge as web de-centralizes (as does distribution)
  • Including promotions and messaging to bring people back to the site
  • Need new ideas to keep podcasts fresh

KCRW chose H.264/M4V for video podcasts due to the penetration of the video iPod.

Rob Greenlee, Sr. Marketing Manager, Mobilcast

Why Mobilcast

Focused on the intersection between the 5-10MM podcast listeners and the 8M mobile internet users (those with a data plan)

Trying to harness consumer appetite for “radio on demand”

Podcasting – a Perfect Match for Mobile

  • Mobile phone is a great audio device (well, some are -j.)
  • Podcasts are appropriate for “tweentime”
  • Content is short duration, time sensitive
  • Podcasts cover virtually every topic
  • Pick ‘n click easy

Now or Later, at You Leisure

Two methods for listening in Mobilcast application

  • Stream for now
  • Download for later

Optimized for mobile networks

  • 30 second buffer
  • Background buffering during playback

Most people who use Mobilcast are streaming podcasts to the phone.

Mobilcast User Experience

Looking for good short form content to include on-deck of the device. (Mobilcast defines short-form as 5 to 10 minutes)

Mobilcast transcodes audio into another format for streaming and download delivery.

Working on revenue share with the carriers and potentially advertising revenue. Rob envisions using bluetooth, gps to trigger delivery of audio advertising to phones.

Question: Why not live streaming of radio to phones? Are there rights issues?

Maria Thomas responds: not enough ubiquitous support for data plans, capable phones, reasonable pricing.

Question: How does Mobilcast compete with the carrier’s own multimedia efforts (e.g. Verizon vCast)

Rob responds: We’re working around the carriers to get these applications installed. We’d prefer to be in partnership with them, but going around them allows us flexibility in what we want to delivery – no walled garden.

Melodeo working to add AAC format for higher fidelity audio.

Question: What about DRM?

Rob responds: As we move toward paid subscription content and music, DRM will become more important.

Chris: quality production values will enhance subscription rates. (50% of Chris’ downloads come via iTunes.)

Maria Thomas, VP/GM NPR Online

Maria describes the working relationship between NPR and member stations as they relate to the NPR podcasting directory.

Maria shows iTunes, describes it at the most important podcast directory “at this time.”

How are we working with these intermediaries? Maria plugs the unified front for public radio podcasting, once again. Feels that public radio is missing the opportunity that comes from serendipity & findability.

Apple doesn’t provide any usage data for the podcast directory. This is challenge, along with listener counts. Most subscribers to NPR podcasts come from iTunes.

Maria shows WXPN web site. They show iTunes and Yahoo subscriber buttons, but also import a version of the NPR podcast directory. She then shows WNYC podcast pages where they highlight their own podcasts, then show “top picks”, other podcasts from public radio.

Chris talks about his “Googlefasting” experiment. Each podcast episode gets its own page on This improves podcast findability in Google. SEO is incredibly important in podcasting.

Podcasting is not just for mobile devices – TiVo, desktops, etc. can all play back podcasts. According to a survey that NPR performed, many people are actually listening to content on the desktop.

Most popular NPR daily show: Story of the Day
Most popular NPR weekly show: All Songs Considered

alt.npr is the NPR sandbox for on-demand audio targeting younger audiences.

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