FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Podcast Prediction Sparks Debate

Forrester's latest forecast of the growth in podcasting has triggered heated debate in the podcasting community. Specifically, the report, written by veteran analyst Charlene Li (who comments on the report here), cites audience numbers that are far lower than those frequently quoted.

According to the report, only 700,000 US households will be listening to podcasts in 2006. That number is projected to grow to 12.3 million households in 2010. While that growth is respectable, it falls far short of the growth rates projected in other surveys. Those with a vested interest in podcasting say the research is flawed, claiming that 15 to 20 million listeners already download podcasts through iTunes, and that the Rocketboom videoblog alone gets 200,000 downloads every day. John Furrier, founder of PodTech.net, initially called the Forrester report "way off base."

However, the Forrester figures parallel research by eMarketer, which forecasts an increase in "active listeners" (those who download and listen to podcasts at least once a week) from 3 million this year to 15 million in 2010. The estimated "total" audience (anyone who has ever downloaded a podcast) is, of course, much higher.

So who's right? Some of the discrepancy may be in methods (households vs. individuals, active vs. occasional listener), semantics (as with surveys about blogs, some users might listen to podcasts and not realize it), and the difficulty in measuring RSS feed traffic. The fact that the Forrester and eMarketer reports display some consistency suggests that podcast audience counts may be normalizing... though it will likely be some time before the industry gets complete and accurate data.

Source: eMarketer