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Is The Podcast Network Real Enough For Nick Douglas?

Posted on May 10, 2007
Filed Under Daily Links, Podcasting |

This week’s “The Death Of…” linkbait feature in Valleyway features PodTech, John Furrier’s (primarily videocast) network out in California; with the delightful sub-heading of “Why Podtech isn’t a Real Media Network.” Apart from the fact that I think they are a real network (hint, the clue is in the grammar and definition of the words), I wondered how well The Podcast Network would measure up to Nick Douglas’ chosen categories…

Cameron Reilly, with $2miilion VCDollars

Content
A media network needs media. Not just anything that fills camera time, of course; a media outlet needs good stuff, delivered in a format its main consumers will like. For instance, a news blog needs constantly updated stories in text, pictures and/or video, whereas a deep documentary series needs longer episodes more carefully crafted.

Right then, what does TPN have? Well we’re primarily audio, although we do have some video shows. Personally I believe there’s a lot you can do with the audio medium. You’ve got your basic interview show in G’Day World with an impressive range of guests (as I recall Camerons had Noam Chomsky on the show in the past). We’ve got educational shows thanks to Napoleon [Boneparte]. There’s entertainment from shows like Mellow Monday, the Arts with my BAFTA nominated coverage of The Edinburgh Festival (you knew I’d get the BAFTA mention in, didn’t you!); Claybourne was highlighted by BBC Radio 4 as one of the best Sci-Fi audio drams on podcast.

Shows are targeted at the listener - we’ll vary length as requried. Brian ‘Coverville‘ Ibbott’s Today in Music History rarely manges more than five mintues each day. The PSP Show is designed for people listening on their PSP’s for around 10-15 minutes.

So I think we’re cool on the content, how it’s delivered and how it’s recieved.

Audience
As noted, it’s not enough to slap something up there. Shows have to be targeted at an audience. But who is fascinated by interviews with tech execs, but has the time to watch and listen to un-annotated shows?

While Douglas is aiming this at PodTech’s content, I’ve covered this in part above, because content is geared towards the audience. It’s damm easy for people to unsubscribe from a podcast, so you;ve got to keep them sweet.

Deals
No media outlet is an island. (Damn, that is just not catchy.) It needs advertisers, partners, and distributors. Even an online video site needs some outside sites to help it catch on. (Of course it’s best if that deal comes for free.) So what deals has PodTech made? Well, there is an impressive list of advertisers.

Agreed, and this is where Douglas would score down TPN - we’ve not got a huge number of big ticket sponsors such as Seagate, or Proctor and Gamble. The model that we’re using now, honed over time, is to find great matches between our advertisers, hosts and listeners. Those three parties need to work in harmony. Podcasting can move away from the shotgun approach of massive brand building and campaigns over swathes of a network, but it seriously risks upsetting the listener. I’ll just say ‘Go Daddy’ and watch certain podcast audiences squirm at yet another coupon code push.

My recent Tech Conference Show from Etech, BlogHer and South by Southwest picked up two sponsors looking to get noticed in the listenership, Linden Lab (of Second Life fame) and Zimki (a hosted JavaScript platform). Last year’s Edinburgh Festival Show was a co-production with The Stage, the UK equivalent to Variety magazine. The Digital Photgraphy Show is going great guns with their advertising partners. By taking a niche, and sensibly working with the advertisers, and close liasons with the listeners, The Digital Photography Show is earning like a charm. The hosts probably could give up their day job now (but then, wouldn’t that mean their podcast becomes their day job?)

Do we have the megabucks contract? No. Do we have deals that work for our hosts and listeners? Yes. Do we want to make more? Who wouldn’t!

Momentum
This is simple: a media network has to grow. Content, audience, and deals have expiration dates. Traffic should rise, the plan should become the trajectory.

Seen the logs, watched the numbers, TPN has month on month growth all round. Next!

A Plan
This may be less necessary than you’d think. But that’s only true for networks with content, audience, and deals. If the company’s going to survive without something real to offer, it’d better have a scheme for passing it off and selling the whole works like a pump-and-dump.

You know, right up until the bubble, msot people viewed building up a business as a long term prospect. The idea of a pump-n-dump (or to give it the Web 2.0 cuddly name, to be taken under Google’s Not Evil Wing) was never on people’s radar. Now, at least in the tech industry, it’s all about getting the VC cash, burning through it at exactly the right rate so you get the call from [Google / Yahoo / AOL / Rupert Murdoch] just as the bank account hits zero.

While suitable VC investment in TPN would be very nice, it’s still 100% in the hands of the founders. What’s wrong in building up, watching more income each year, using that income to re-invest, provide a wage and a pension, and carry that on for a good number of years?

The Summary
PodTech’s dead. There’s nothing good to watch, no traffic, no pickup, no significant deals, no standout talent, and nothing really there.

That sounds like Douglas doing a classic linkbait. If PodTech were to reply to it they’d be drawn down to a similar level. If they don’t reply they and look aloof and crazy. Win-win for Valleywag. And I guess I’m handing back some of that link juice now, but I have been meaning to do a post on TPN for some time now, and this seemed a great way to frame the points I wanted to raise.

Here’s to subtlety!

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