In the beginning, there were audio podcasts. And then about 13 seconds later there were also video podcasts. I may be exaggerating the 13 seconds, but it sure seemed like very little time passed before content creators realized that video files could be distributed via RSS feeds just as easily as audio files. It didn’t take long before audio podcasters and video podcasters were living side-by-side in the dominant podcast directory.
The audience experience was distinctly different for the two flavors. Back then, watching or listening was an either/or proposition, and one controlled (typically) by the creator. There wasn't much point in only listening to an episode of Happy Tree Friends or Ask A Ninja. Both shows really required the video component to enjoy.
But the bifurcation of audio podcasts and video podcasts was relatively short-lived, thanks to Google’s acquisition and promoting the hell out of YouTube. For better or worse, most video-only creators found a better home for their creations at YouTube, and the dominant podcast listening platforms became mostly an audio-only experience as video-only creators migrated away.
Since that time, several entrepreneurs have tried to bring video back to podcasting with varying degrees of success, though none deserving of the adjective “breakout”. Now, nearly two decades later and with a new year just a few months away, video podcasts are looking like they might become a thing again… again. And they just might work this time.
There are four developing trends that could indicate a re-resurgence of video podcasting.
1. YouTube Seeking Podcast Boss
Earlier this month, YouTube announced they were looking for an executive to oversee podcasting on their platform. Not Google Podcasts, Google Play Music Podcasts, or any of the other false starts Google has had with podcasting for the last two decades. But a person to oversee podcasts on YouTube. And because we know that YouTube is the most-cited platform/service used by multi-platform podcast consumers, many podcasters are (often crudely) already making video versions of their podcasts and distributing them on YouTube.
2. Spotify Wants Video Of Your Podcast
Just last week, Spotify and Anchor announced they'd soon be hosting audio and video versions of select podcasts in the Spotify app. Details are still sketchy, but the concept is that once someone follows a podcast with both audio and video versions, they’d get to pick which format of any given episode is right for them at that time. That UX is tough to get right and Spotify hasn’t always been the best at displaying podcast content, but they’re not without their UX skills.
3. A More Video-Friendly Namespace
People working on Podcasting 2.0 changes to the namespace have come up with an alternate enclosure tag. This new tag can contain links to a few different types of media files, and one of those could be a video file. Effectively this allows for podcast apps to provide, in a non-proprietary way, exactly what Spotify is trying to do within its own walled garden.
On their own, those three trends are probably enough to get you thinking about how video could work for your show. But as any podcaster who makes a show with video elements will tell you, it’s still extra effort to make both an audio and a video version of an episode. And not just a little extra effort. A lot of extra effort if you want both versions to feel… complete. Audio that doesn’t feel like it’s missing video. And video that doesn’t feel like it just should have been audio.
Enter the fourth trend:
4. All-In-One Media Editing
I make a video version and an audio version of this podcast. Both are edited (I’m not a monster) and both require completely different editing processes. I use a variety of audio editing tools to make the audio while Allie does whatever she does with whatever she uses on the video side.
Yes, that’s very inefficient. Ant it’s why Descript is trying to change all of that by letting creators edit content in a much more holistic fashion. The concept is… weird. Capture quality audio and video, drag it into Descript’s text-based editor (remember I said “weird”), compile/edit a compelling piece of media, and output multiple versions of the file when you are done. Brilliant! And weird!
But it works.
With that working, plus the moves made by powerhouses Spotify and YouTube, along with the bootstrapped and punk rock efforts by the Podcasting 2.0 community… and this whole video podcast thing might again be an interesting prospect. Again.
No, I’m not quite ready to predict that most podcasts audio-only today will suddenly pivot to both audio and video. There are still many podcasts that use a format that just isn’t conducive to video. But a lot are. Especially straight interviews or monologue shows.
Those are the trends I’m tracking. So while you’re making your holiday gift guides, you may want to have a serious think on how your show fits in a world where audio and video are both valid options for your listeners.
Phoenix-local podcaster Garrett Godfrey of the podcast Good Patron and I saw each other last week at the PHX Podcast Club social event. Garrett brought me coffee. No, not bought me virtual coffee, but he physically brought me actual coffee. Coffee he hand-roasted as well. Much thanks, Garret!
And thanks to John Kostuch of the Centre Steer podcast. He bought me a virtual coffee and sent a note saying:
Being a guide and not an expert made a connection with me. Thanks for that.
You are welcome for that, John. I’m glad the episode entitled You Can Be An Expert On Your Podcast Without Being A Jerk About It resonated with you.
And even though I haven't received special “boosts” from listeners using the value-for-value enabled podcast listening apps available at NewPodcastApps.com, I am very grateful for those of you who choose to stream Satoshis as you listen to this and other podcasts. Today, I’ve received just over 32,000 Satoshis. So thank you for that if that’s how you choose to return the value you receive from my show!
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.