General Listening

Finding Podcasting’s Listening Simplicity

carradioEvery time I step into a car with an AM/FM radio, I am reminded about the concept of simplicity and ease of use as key reasons why radio grew to have such a large listening audience.

When I contrast the current in-car radio experience with present podcast usability, the AM/FM radio experience is still winning the simplicity test and audiences today.

We have seen usability and simplicity gains of on demand audio and podcasting technology over the past 10 years. These usability improvements have started to erode the listener base of in-car radio and is causing a gradual increase in on demand audio podcasts usage.

The past iPod synchronization model using a cable has been replaced by always internet connected smartphones and mobile computing devices that has driven the improvements in simplicity and ease of access to on demand podcast audio content to more and more people.

The power of radio is linked to creating a more lean back type of experience around getting audio content, but the content we are getting via radio just may not always be what we really want at that moment. Over the past 30 years, we have expected audio content to be managed for us by human curation.

Human curation of audio and original content creation has always been strength of broadcast radio stations, but over time we have seen the gradual erosion of the content quality and originality at radio stations as the cost of curation and creation has gone up. This drove increased need to monetize radio stations businesses and thus causing radio listeners to dislike the amount of commercial advertising spots.

61cnyft6IlL._SL1000_Smartphones and smart agent technologies like Siri, Cortana and Alexa/Echo are pushing into a new era of machine learning, voice interaction and artificial intelligence that will understand our interests and favorites to better deliver podcasts we want when we want them anywhere.

This machine learning and artificial intelligence will drive understanding that is contextual to location and interests.  In the car drivers like music, talk shows, local news, traffic, weather and local sports events. These newer mobile technologies will also know and correlated with other data from searches and other media consumption patterns.

This direction seems complex and potentially confusing to podcast listeners, but I think it will bring ease of use and more simplicity to listener consumption of podcast content as we look into the future.

The best example of this is the Amazon Alexa/Echo interactive voice platform and its move to becoming an internet of things platform with podcasts being available upon voice request and management from many types of devices in our homes, at work and in cars.

originally published on Spreaker’s Head of Content, Rob Greenlee’s website.

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  • John R Reisinger Oct 2, 2016 at 1:08 am

    Thanks, Rob. Great things coming. Hoping Spreaker will lead in this area. Would love to speak with your technologists.
    Love your Spreaker Live series

  • David Hooper Sep 20, 2016 at 7:16 am

    You are right on. It’s nice to have a machine with just an on/off button, a tuner, and a volume knob. Now that podcasts are portable, this kind of simplicity of consumption is our next big hurdle.

    Have an Alexa. To me, it’s still overcomplicating everything as it had to be linked up, connected to the Internet, etc.

    I think NPR has the right idea with their app of just NPR shows. Also love the single-show apps, although that’s not going to work for people who want to listen to more than one podcast at a time.

    • rwgreenlee Sep 20, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      David, Agreed that it is early days still for Alexa/Echo. It will get much better and the other smart agents technology will improve. Network level apps does help when multiple shows can be offered.

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