Podcasts and Advertising

There’s several reasons I got drawn into podcasts. First of all I loved the long-form platform it provides. As someone who has done jobs with a lot of windshield time I was very well versed with talk-radio, too well versed. Whether it was at the Washtenaw County Road Commission or doing over-the-road sales, I always had the radio on.

When I discovered podcasts, it changed everything. No more interviews in seven minute segments, no more unbearable ads right when things got good, and no unbearable, repetitive updates about the weather, traffic, and news. The best aspect though were no censors.

I am way past the days of giggling at crude things, unless they’re funny, however, I still hate censorship. It’s gross, and even more so when it’s not even related to curse words. When people are censored for their opinions because it goes against what one of the advertisers does is when we’ve truly lost our way and are selling free speech down the river. I am hoping podcasts aren’t going that way.

I love there is more advertising in podcasts. It means the medium is growing and people are figuring out methods of making it profitable. It also allows the platform to remain free for the consumer. Although, I’m not sure how much longer that will last.

When I see stuff like Podcast One’s ads about filling out a survey to “keep podcasts free,” it worries me. I get having premium sections where you can access back catalogs of shows or get special content, but don’t threaten me with taking the already free content and putting it behind a paywall. It’s ugly, and it’s greed at it’s worst.

I wouldn’t be so worked up if we haven’t seen this twice already in the forms of Satellite Radio, and before that, Cable TV. Those both promised that since you were paying, you wouldn’t have to sit through ads, or see edited content. Yeah, how did that turn out? Not only do you pay for both now but you also sit through ads. It’s a joke, and a lie to tell people that podcasts won’t fall into the same greed trap.

I sit through ad reads on the podcasts I enjoy, and if I hear about a product I think I can use or would enjoy, I use their coupon code, or go through their Amazon site. But I’m not about to sit here and let these greedy, fear-mongers threaten a medium I love, because I was able to survive without podcasts a lot longer than I have with them.

Also, look at how it’s worked out for Cable TV and Satellite Radio. Are they thriving? The two major Satellite networks had to merge because one was on the verge of bankruptcy and the other was close behind. Hell, some Satellite channels have even started putting podcasts on their stations to stay afloat.

Cable TV is quickly becoming a ghost town as more and more people are flocking to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and a myriad of other online resources which are cheaper and overall a better experience. These are two huge examples of where “paying for premium,” has become a more expensive version of what already exists.

Yeah, greed worked well, for a small group, and a short time. But if you think the people benefiting from an all-pay platform will be the podcasts you’re wrong. It will be the people who own networks like Podcast One, that is until another, better thing comes along just like podcasts did.


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