Forrester Research has suggested that by the end of the decade, 12 million people will be listening to podcasts. This, the New York Times said, has big media companies clamoring for a piece of the action.
Infinity, Clear Channel and Sirius have all come up with pod media on the radio side, while ABC and NBC have developed their own version of a daily headline download. Scripps-Howard and BusinessWeek have each come up with audio versions of their print products.
Although podcasting gives consumers the opportunity to time-shift and listen at their convenience, it has had — in some cases — a dramatic result. On the Media, a media analysis program produced by the New York public radio station WNYC, has been podcast-friendly since January. They have picked up almost 40,000 new listeners a week, the equivalent of adding a major American city to their distribution.
While public radio shows have used podcasting to extend their reach, large media companies are exploring podcasting as a way to find new audiences and new talent. But what is seen as one more opportunity to publish may actually be more an opportunity to hear what is actually going on.
So far, podcasting has not been profitable. For the time being, podcasting is a technology that seems to further threaten established media’s stranglehold on public consciousness, but offers little opportunity in the way of a real actual business, said the Times. Big media are aggressively attempting to get their arms around the next big thing. But it remains a medium that is viral and uncontrollable by nature, and that does not threaten to become a business any time soon.