The Stream is Rising

2016 Monthly Online Radio Listening

Podcasting is a great medium for freezing events in time. For non-digital natives the ability to listen to an interview or story, on demand, days, weeks or even years after its initial upload can change their lives. And that amazing ability to freeze time is exactly the reason podcasters need to consider streaming their shows.

I know. The whole idea of podcasting is to provide an everywhere/anytime mix of unique voices.

No, it’s not.

Actions Speak Louder Than Your Words

The whole idea of podcasting is to move an audience to action. That’s what brings about change. That’s what creates a following. That’s what attracts sponsors. Whatever your podcasting objectives, unless it’s talking to the atmosphere, all your goals start with compelling an audience to listen and then come back and listen again. On-demand programming, whether it’s a podcast or content on your DVR, isn’t as compelling as a live event.

Don’t take my word for it. (On second thought, why not?) Media maven Mark Ramsey made the same point in a recent blog post.

Facebook is reportedly tweaking their algorithm so that you’ll see a lot more live video in your newsfeeds. According to a company post, “Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live, compared to after they are no longer live.”…That’s why Facebook is also reportedly offering certain celebrities six-figure sums to broadcast live on the service…So Facebook is not only investing in live video, they’re investing in celebs who can transform live video into “must-see” events.

Not that I’m a big Facebook fan (long story), but the company does have a knack for recognizing what draws eyeballs (and ears along with them) to digital content. The company’s pivot to bring live content into the mix, and with streaming content attracting listeners at an ever-increasing rate, is to give live content a sober once over.

The Pluses

Here’s how live streaming works in your favor:

  • Immediacy: Sir George Martin dies on the day of your show. You can deliver your unique retrospective while the event is trending, not days later, when your listeners are into something new;
  • Must Hear: When television was king, NBC launched a promotional campaign called, “Must See TV.” Before technology made time shifting practical, NBC execs knew that if content was compelling enough people would adjust so they could watch it. What’s changed today? Only the definition of compelling content. It’s harder to create. But, if you can master it, people will adjust to listen to it;
  • Interaction: With phone calls, tweets, Facebook messages and email your listeners become part of the show. That’s something they can’t do with a podcast;
  • Revenue: Live streaming and podcasting are separate media channels attracting similar, but different, audiences. That means you can sell your stream to one sponsor, your podcast to another. Or, you can charge more for sponsorship on both channels. The same amount of work gets you two revenue sources instead of one.

Okay, there is a drawback.

The Minus

  • Loss of Flexibility: The show is live. You need to do it on the schedule you’ve established with your listeners. All the elements—guests, co-hosts, audio clips, theme music—have to be ready to go at showtime. You don’t get to fix the live stream in post. Unless you upload your podcast exactly as you record it, with no postproduction tweaking, your live show will probably be a bit rougher than its podcast cousin. That’s not to say you can’t (and shouldn’t) fix fluffs, technical mistakes and content errors before putting your podcast on line; but if you screw up on a live show you have to live with it.

The Difference

I’ve done live radio, I’ve done podcasting and I can tell you there is no contest between the two. Give me a live mic every time. There’s an adrenalin rush that comes with going live that propels you to do your best work. Once you experience it you may never return to a podcast-only show.

With listenership on the rise, it might be time to add your voice to the Internet radio stream. At the very least, it’s time to test the waters.


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Chart: Edison Research (Rights: Used by Permission)

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