Who Will Save Podcasting?
This merger is exactly what advertisers have been waiting for in the podsphere. And it will fundamentally change podcasting as we know it. Because Stitcher is streaming, Midroll Media can report exactly how many people listen to a podcast, how much of the show they listen to, and where they turn off. So advertisers will know exactly how many people are reached by their ads, accounting that is sorely missing in our current podcast apps.
Advertisers know that a download isn't the same as a listen. I, for instance, download hundreds of podcasts a week, read the description, and rack & stack the ones I think will be interesting into a playlist for the day. The rest are deleted unplayed. I suspect many listeners do the same. Or casual listeners just become overwhelmed with the backlog of unplayed podcasts and delete them all unheard. Yet in the current system, downloads are the only metric available to entice advertisers to take a chance backing your show.
The only podplayer that has similar reporting to Stitcher is the NPR One app. And while Amazon Kindle Readers and Amazon Audible players also report back the rate of reading/listening, abandonment, and pages read (In fact, some minor Kindle authors are only paid by the number of pages read by customers--Amazon is trying to cut down on the crappy self-publishing) these are internal metric (although that may change with Audible getting into the podcast and original content game).
So, by combining MidRoll Media with Stitcher reporting Scripps has created a money machine that will attract more advertisers while at the same time make it harder for traditional podcasters to attract quality ads.
If you're revenue stream is actually derived from selling eyeballs on your videos on Youtube, or on your own goods and services, then the old podcast model is still going to work. Or if you're an educational or public service podcast (like the superb, The Thomas Jefferson Hour) then the old podcast model is fine.
But I suspect the problems aggregators like Panoply (Slate) and Gimlet are running into is that while they produce great podcasts, there are no dependable metrics beyond downloads, which is the reason I only hear the same tiny handful of advertisers (Squarespace, Harry's Razors, etc.) on nearly every sponsored podcast I listen to.
In my view, the only way to actually save the "podcast industry" for all Content Creators is to develop a new open source podplayer standard that reports back more than downloads. Content Creators must have access to the same kinds of stats that Midroll Media is generating with the Stitcher merger.
I don't think this problem is insurmountable. I know that my Apple iPhone has an option to opt-in reporting back statistics to the app developers on their product. Surely adding podcast stats to the feedback would not an insurmountable problem.
All we need is some techie folks to step up to the plate and Save Podcasting for the Rest of Us.