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Black Widow killed it at the box office last week. No big surprise there: it's a Marvel movie! But what is surprising is that it also killed it with revenues from streaming, as it was simultaneously released as a pricy add-on for Disney+ subscribers. Also simultaneous but not sanctioned were the hundreds (or more) of illicit copies of Black Widow that were uploaded to various torrent servers within hours of the movie’s premiere.
Movie watchers had near unlimited choices to watch this film. For many, it marked a return to in-theater movie watching. Nearly as many streamed the movie from the comfort of their own homes, and an untold number opted to jump through a small number of hoops to download a pirated copy.
And people did all of those in rather surprising numbers. But you’re probably wondering what that has to do with podcasting.
A Podcasting Idea Before Its Time Reemerges
Last week, I learned that Macmillan Publishers—an early supporter of podcasting—was trying something new. Well, new to them, at least. They’ve repurposed their Stories from Among the Stars podcast feed and are now releasing full audiobook versions of some of their most popular titles on that feed.
They're doing it one chapter at a time in serialized podcast form. That should sounds familiar to those of you who've known me for more than a decade. Way back in 2005, I helped a few hundred underpublished authors release podcast versions of their own books with a service called Podiobooks.com. That was acquired by Scribl in 2015, and a few authors like Scott Sigler, Cory Doctorow, and Paul E. Cooley are still releasing their books one chapter at a time in podcast form.
McMillan is the first (at least the first I can think of immediately) big publisher to officially adopt this model and use it with their expansive catalog. They're currently releasing The Three-Body Problem, which remains one of the best stories I've ever read. Getting the chance to listen to the professionally produced audiobook in serialized form is a treat!
The Power Of The Container
What these two examples demonstrate is a drum I’ve been beating for years: The container often matters as much as the content.
People will naturally gravitate towards and select the container that best fits their needs at that time. But they also will, and oftentimes do, select a different container—a container that holds the same content—at a different time to fit their changed needs at that time.
This isn’t new. People my age remember watching movies on broadcast TV that we'd already watched in the theaters. And yes, we sat through the commercials and dealt with the truncated and censored “formatted for TV” realities. We listen to audiobooks we've already read in print-form. We'll watch stage, movie, and television series adaptations of shows we’ve seen in their original form. We do this partly because we love the source content, for sure. But we also do this because we want to see or hear someone else's take on the original content in that new container.
And as has been proven time and time again, digital containers aren't cannibalistic to other forms of content.
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You Need More Containers For Your Content
If you’re more than just a podcaster, you should ride this again-trending wave. If you do in-person consultations, consider putting out a few online, self-serve courses. Try your hand at a video series of you walking people through a process you’ve mastered and are well compensated for. Or make an audio-only version that doesn’t require visual elements and release it as a podcast. Record yourself making your podcast and put it live on TikTok or the next new thing.
Do whatever it is you do, customized for as many containers as you can, to give your source content the legs it deserves. Because you're much more than just a podcaster. Assuming you want to be.
I think we're seeing the reemergence of a trend of using podcasting as a vehicle to spread content, but not the only vehicle to spread that original content.
I'd love to get some more examples of how podcasts have been repurposed to hold different content in a new container. Talk it over with your friends if you like, or share with us in the Advancing Podcasting community,
And if you love the content you heard in this container, please go to BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra and show me your support.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.