Streaming Audio and Video Web Content Made Easier with User friendly Multimedia Manager

DailySplice promotes professional multimedia software to assist non-developers easily stream audio and video content to their site. Adding multimedia to websites has been shown to increase visitor engagement by 70%

Victoria, BC, (July 07, 2009) – DailySplice, creator of the Podcast Station™ multimedia manager for streaming audio and video web content, has expanded its team with the addition of a Marketing Coordinator to implement its web strategy to drive adoption of its user friendly podcasting tool and controller.

Mike Waraich joins the DailySplice team to emphasize web strategy and on-line programs. DailySplice CEO, Rian Bowden explained that Wariach will assist in launching the DailySplice story on the web and promoting the benefits of streaming audio and video content with professional podcast player and management tools. Bowden continued by saying, “recent studies have shown that adding multimedia to websites increases visitor engagement by 70%”.

Waraich said, “The Podcast Station was developed for the non-developer to quickly add professional looking multimedia content and connect their message to their audience with just a few clicks”. He added that Podcast Station users increase the return on investment for their websites by controlling audio and video streams from within their own site and measuring podcast effectiveness with built in analytical tools.

The company has had success with emergency and safety services organizations who use the Podcast Station™ to load emergency messages to their stakeholders and post public information and safety advice.

Emerging genres

After doing lots and lots of podcast reviews, it seems like we’re witnessing the beginnings of new media genres on the internet. Podcasting makes it galactically easier to express yourself creatively and distribute it to like-minded viewers.100 Word Stories is a great example of a podcast that has built a community around its theme. The theme is simple: a (very) short story. It’s easy to fall into the groove of this format. If you have a creative mind you can come up with such a story in no time, and it’s easy for people to consume as well.

Sketch comedy is another podcast theme that has broken out. A lot of these seem to be video podcasts, which is probably due to classic shows like Saturday Night Live and Mad TV. As a kid, I used to pretend I was a cast member on SNL. I would come up with my own characters and comedy sketches and act them out. Podcasts like Ask Blackie and The Monkey Box took it a step further than me. This is the kind of stuff I would have done if the technology was available at the time. Am I old?

Let’s look at some aspects of these two formats.

  • Short duration. Short episodes are easier to produce. They don’t require expensive equipment and a lot of time editing. If you’re doing a video podcast, there is certainly more expense and more work to be done during production, but it’s very manageable. For listeners, there is less investment required to sample the podcast and determine whether or not they want more. I favor shorter podcasts in general (unless it’s a topic I’m fascinated with), because in my experience, longer episodes tend to contain less relevant content.
  •  Familiar format. Everyone’s seen Saturday Night Live or some reasonable facsimile. You know what to expect. There is fond nostalgia built in here as well. These podcasts remind me of watching Bill Murray specials and the commerical for Jewess Jeans.
  • Timeless. Content doesn’t get old. It’ll still be as funny and as relevant 5 years from now as it is today.
  • Produces on a consistent schedule. Many popular podcasts don’t produce every day or even every week. There are numerous podcasts that run in seasons, just like TV. They produce a few episodes a month on their on-season. However, the majority seem to release an episode every day or on a specific weekday.

We’re always on the lookout for new podcasts that fit into these genres. There are a ton more that I haven’t mentioned, but we’ll be talking about them over the next few weeks on our podcast. If you know of any, please leave a comment or submit it to our directory, or both!

Podcast numbers

I’m revisiting the issue of podcast numbers out there, because this is an important factor in our service and its implications.

Feedburner reports that it currently serves 230,000 audio and video podcasts. That’s a sizeable number already, but what percentage of total podcasts do they host?

A couple weeks ago, I wrote that DailySplice’s directory has about 1000 podcasts (a fairly small directory so far, but growing steadily.) Feedburner hosts about 33% of those, indicating that there could be over 650,000 podcasts out there.

We’ve since acquired a list of 33,000 podcasts from various hosts. By hosts, I mean the server that provides the RSS file, not the media files themselves (although that’s an interesting issue as well.) The largest RSS hosts are:

These numbers are quite a departure to what I’ve seen in the DailySplice directory; I didn’t expect Feedburner’s contribution to be as low as 10%. This list contains only 1% of Feedburner’s total hosted feeds. The numbers for blogtalkradio seem to be in the same ballpark: only about 6% of blogtalkradio’s  87,000 shows are in this list. If the percentage of listed podcasts are the same for other hosts, this could indicate that there are between 550,000 and 3.3 million podcast feeds out there. The latter number seems outlandish, so I intend to do some more verification when more data is available. I’ll also take a look at how many of these are actively producing new content, which will be a more convincing measurement of podcast growth.

Podcast Numbers and Growth

One of my burning questions is how many podcasts are out there, and how is that number changing on a month-to-month basis? Over the next month or so, I want to put a system in place to maintain an up-to-date estimate of this number.

We are in the process of building a set of services to give newcomers easier access to the massive pool of podcast content (keep reading for actual numbers). To make a scalable service, we need a reasonable estimate of the size of the data set. Running an algorithm for 100 podcasts is one thing, but running that algorithm for 100,000 or more takes some careful technical planning.

I surveyed some of the larger podcast hosts and repositories, and as of May 8, 2008:

  • feedburner hosts 216,512 podcasts feeds.
  • claims to have over 60,000 podcasts indexed.
  • has over 9000 podcasts (319662 episodes)
  • has over 1100 podcasts (70000 episodes)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the numbers for libsyn, one of the most prominent podcast hosts on the net. About 30% of DailySplice’s indexed feeds come from feedburner, indicating that the number of podcast feeds out there is approaching 700,000.

The other question I have is what proportion of those are regularly updated. Of DailySplice’s feeds, over 1000 ( 90%) have released an episode within the last 3 months. However, we have a relatively new directory, so many of the podcasts in there are popular and/or recently created. I’ll revisit this question once we’ve indexed more legacy content.

If anyone has more accurate estimates, I’d love to hear them! Stay tuned for updates to this topic.

Views on podcast user uptake

With podcast audiences growing at about 20% per year, the number of podcasts available online is likely to soar. Although a rise in the growth rate of podcasts would be great for producers and advertisers, listeners would be faced with the same dilemma they have now: is there something in Podcastland for me and how do I find it?

Two major problems are preventing podcasts from entering the mainstream. The first and probably most serious is a misunderstanding of what podcasts are. Podcasts are seen as a niche media format, and for that reason many people dismiss it as too technical. Between 2006 and 2007, there was a huge increase in the number of people who have heard of the term ‘podcast’, but a substantially smaller increase in the number of people that began listening. This indicates that people have been introduced to podcasts, but for some reason(s) are not subscribing. I believe that this is primarily due to misconceptions about podcasts and who they’re suited for; we need to dismiss the notion that podcasts are too complicated, techie, or specialized. And no, Dad, you don’t need an iPod.

The other problem is finding interesting podcasts. In chemistry, there is a concept called activation energy that is defined as the amount of energy that must be overcome for a chemical reaction to occur. If the energy cannot be provided, the reaction won’t take place. I’m sure you’ve figured out my metaphor by now. Yes, finding podcasts is a time-consuming, difficult task, especially for the uninitiated. First, you have to browse a directory, find a bunch of podcasts that seem interesting, download them, sample them, prune and maintain them. The activation energy is too high.

Lots of people are giving it the ol’ college try. There are oodles of directories out there, but most simply aggregate the RSS feed’s contents and provide a play function. Newer services add some more advanced features such as organizing podcasts by production date or allowing people to create a playlist of their favorites. Unfortunately these directories do little to solve the more complex problem of reducing the effort required to get involved. They focus too heavily on organizing content in predetermined categories in a DMOZ or Yahoo! Directory fashion, which is helpful if people already know what they’re looking for, but for users that are just getting their feet wet, this kind of organization falls short. Newcomers must still spend a great deal of time finding interesting content, a chore that will become more and more tedious as the amount of content increases.

One of DailySplice’s main efforts is to ease the burden of finding good shtuff. DailySplice organizes its directory using a metric called Podrank, an algorithm that determines the popularity and dependability of a podcast. For any category, the directory will show the most popular and consistently updated podcasts. In addition, the directory derives some helpful information about a podcaster’s publication habits, including when new episodes are expected and the expected running time of an episode.

As the number of podcasts and listeners increases over the next few years, we will need more intelligent ways of providing would-be listeners with relevant content. The objective is to reduce the amount of clicks and time investment required to find a slate of good material and listen to it on a regular basis.

Should Podcasts be Short or Long?

Short or Long

I’ve heard votes for both short a long podcasts. Some argue that they just want to enjoy a 30-60 minute show because that’s what they’re used to with TV or radio programs. Others say a podcast longer than 10 minutes can’t hold their attention.

It’s often the case that you have 30-60 minutes of downtime where you might want to listen to a podcast. It’s easier to listen to one podcast that fits that timeframe rather than a bunch of short ones. Downloading and syncing, or even just pressing the play button for a 5 minute podcast may not even be worth the effort.

But, you can usually get a lot more info by listening to a variety of short podcasts. I listen to both 30 minute shows and 5-10 minute shows. The short ones, like CBC Hourly, defiantly give me much higher quality info, and overall they provide a much more productive use of my time. I’d even argue that I get both higher levels of quality and quantity out of a 5 minute show than I do a 30 minute show.

What about when the objective isn’t to get educated but simply to get entertained? 30-60 minutes give a podcaster more time to make you laugh, make you cry, make you bop you head on the bus… But I’d still argue that a good short podcast like Podington Bear gives me a higher quality bopping experience per minute than any long show out there.

I’d say the argument for longer podcasts is not so much about a preference for longer shows, but its about the fact that longer shows fit better into the time people have for podcasts. If it were easier to consume a bunch of shorties in that time I think we’d see the short niche podcasts topping the charts.

I’ve touched on what I think are a couple of the biggest arguments for either side. What other opinions are there?

How music podcasts drew me in

Many non-techie’s are confused when I tell them what a podcast is, or that podcasts offer them anything of interest. People believe that podcasts are too obscure or complicated to use. A few years ago, I shared that skepticism as well. Getting into the music podcasts helped me shed that limiting belief.

The term podcast is unfortunate in some ways because it takes some explanation to tell someone what a podcast is and how it works, although most of the concepts have been used for decades in radio and TV. Podcasts have a reputation for being “techie”, which obfuscates the good, (non-techie) content they offer. Syndicated programs have been produced for many years. Our grandparents may have listened to Fibber McGee and Molly, one of the classic and most recognizable radio syndications of all time. The only substantial difference with podcasts is the way they’re distributed.

So there’s confusion. I’m sure there’s something for everyone available these days. Podcasting is growing at an unprecedented rate. All it takes is a hearty search! For example, my family recently went on a trip to Mexico. Before she left, my cousin wanted to learn some beginner Spanish. Sounds like a job for SpanishPod! For me, it was music that helped me cross the hurdle; I was looking for new ways to listen to obscure independent music. There was the radio of course, but I don’t carry one around with me. Further, the radio has little I want to listen to. Celine Dion? No thanks.

There is the opinion that podcasts are better suited for news, shows, and frequently updated content. Services like news and weather are updated regularly, and previous episodes lose relevance quickly. Who cares about last month’s CBC World At Six, after all. Music, by contrast, doesn’t become obsolete when a new episode is released.

I believe music will be an important catalyst for getting more and more people to adopt podcasts. The drawback is that most of it will be unfamiliar to listeners. People who expect to hear mainstream music from a podcast are going to be disappointed (for now at least). Regardless, there is enough great indie music available to draw in anyone who manages to listen for a few minutes.

I am always looking for ways to familiarize people with podcasts and methods to ease adoption.

By the way, if you are interested in old-timey radio, including Fibber McGee and Molly, check out

New media and customization: Together is better

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Traditional broadcasting technologies such as radio are being displaced by more personalized services. Broadcast radio, television, and even modern satellite radio are all suffering from a decline in listeners. What’s the reason? Computers and portable media players are more advanced and easier to use than ever before. Sure, portable radios, walkmans and Discmans have been around for years, but they never offered people the degree of customizability as products like the iPod do. When I was a kid, making a customized CD or tape was very time-consuming or too expensive, at least until 1999 when I was able to afford my first CD burner. Today, I can do the same thing with a few clicks of a mouse and in way less time.

These days, more and more technologies are being supplanted. Last Christmas, I got an alarm clock/radio that doubles as an iPod dock and player. Instead of waking up to a screeching siren, I can start the day with my obnoxious teenage angst music.

The car is where traditional radio is making its stand. Very few cars have an iPod or USB connection, so radio is still the most convenient distraction when behind the wheel. A few years ago, cars’ AM/FM radio dominance became threatened by the satellite variety. The two main satellite radio services, XM and Sirius, claim they have a combined 17 million subscribers in North America. Not a bad figure at all, but the rate of new subscriptions has leveled off.

Even so, will portable media players be able to retain their market share? Satellite radio can be transmitted into your pocket as well. There are portable players from XM and Sirius, even devices that can record audio for playback later. So far, they haven’t been able to replace many iPods. Adoption of satellite radio has waned as iPods and portable media players have become more popular, suggesting that people would rather listen to their own playlists instead of stations designed for mass consumption.

And now for something completely different…

Any media platform has to be able to pass the adolescent girl test. Think of a user that doesn’t know and doesn’t care how something works. It just better work and better be cool. Radio achieves that because it’s so darn easy to use. Discmans were easy and were all the rage in their day. iPods are straightforward, and have the cool card in their back pocket. Podcasts fall short on both fronts. They need a lot of explanation up-front, and users need to be relatively skilled with the web to get value out of them.

I like to describe our website as “a service where you can create your own radio show. Not only with the music you want, but also the news, business, sports, and any other topic you want to know or be kept in the loop about.” I steer clear of describing what podcasts are because I find that in doing so, I use long words (e.g. syndicated) that only make people feel very confused.

We are designing the service so that it is very easy for people to get started. Then we’ll hook them using our wit and charm, and possibly a few high-rated podcasts. Keep coming back to to see the changes we’ll be making over the next few weeks. Our mission is to make podcasts easier to use and to expose podcasters to a larger audience. No, not just adolescent girls.