Tuesday, June 7, 2016

E.W. Scripps Buys Podcast Company Stitcher

John Gruber:

Midroll owning Stitcher is not good for the podcast ecosystem. Stitcher is popular, but my show is not on Stitcher because Stitcher re-hosts the audio, compresses it to hell, and unless you opt out, inserts their own ads. That’s not how podcasting is supposed to work. I firmly believe podcasting should be open, like the web.

Marco Arment:

I’ve never been more proud to be operating a large podcast app that’s built on standard RSS, open access, and standard playback of podcasters’ original files directly from their servers, with no garbage ads being inserted, no behavioral tracking for advertisers, no proprietary lock-in, and absolutely no requirements that podcasters register with me, do anything differently, lose any control, agree to any terms, or even be aware of my app at all to be played, shared, and promoted in it.

Don’t let proprietary podcast platforms convince you that we need them.

Stephen Hackett:

I’m not as worried with services that re-host files — like Google Play — as Gruber is, but I agree that locking advertising to a select platform is bad for the industry.

Update (2016-06-07): Ben Thompson:

Midroll sells ads for over 200 podcasts, including some of the most popular ones like WTF with Marc Maron and the Bill Simmons Podcast. The not so-secret reality about podcast ads, though, are that advertisers are quite concentrated: a FiveThirtyEight intern heroically listened to the top 100 shows on the iTunes chart and counted 186 ads; 35 percent of them were from five companies. More tellingly, nearly all of the ads were of the direct marketing variety.


The real money in TV and especially radio is brand advertising; brand advertising is focused on building affinity for a purchase that will happen at some indefinite point in the future, so the focus is less on conversion and more on targeting: knowing in broad strokes who is listening to an ad, and exactly how many. For podcasting to ever be a true moneymaker it has to tap into that — and that means changing the fundamental nature of the product.


I know this breaks the modern concept of podcasting, and power users with tens of subscriptions in their podcasting player of choice will be annoyed if they have to download multiple apps. Often, though, a solution that works for power users is actually prohibitive for normal users, and the other solution — a Facebook of podcasts — would be worse for everyone.

Update (2016-06-08): Michael Rockwell:

The best we can hope is that Midroll treats Stitcher users like Neilson households — a small sample size that can be used to represent all podcast listeners.

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