Monday, January 30, 2006

Less Geek and Better Content Fit

We all spend lots of time talking about the next cool technology that will possibly impact how audio content listening will evolve. We don't seem to spend much time talking about how content will need to evolve to fit with the listeners experience on different new listening devices. Technologists and major media companies have focused on the whole Podcasting area as a new way to get on-demand audio content to listeners, extend the current media brands and give a voice to bloggers.

The existing radio broadcasting industry has been struggling to chart a new course with downloadable media. The key issue facing broadcast radio is whether they just repurpose existing content or extend into new content and will that content need to change. While everyone agrees that the mobile phone could be the next really big audio content listening platform, it is far from a proven extended use of the phone.

As one of the first podcasters and now one of the marketing folks at Melodeo’s Mobilcast which delivers podcasts to mobile phone via an on phone software client, we are starting to see some data come out showing that the listener has a different need and expectation around content on the mobile phone. The current active tracking data is showing over 50% of the content requests through the phone are 5 minutes less and 40% of listeners are listening to content from 5 min. to 60 min. The median length is about 15 to 20 minutes. While we are making long and short form content available to listeners on the phone, it is moving towards shorter form content as the dominant content format. This has implications for the broadcast radio industry on the content production side and whether repurposing broadcast content on the mobile phone will be successful. We are already seeing NPR learn this lesson and only offer NPR podcasts at a length of 15 min. or less.

I do feel that 5 minutes or less on the mobile phone will extend longer into 20-30 minutes or less as the new mobile phones gain in Internet connection speed, storage memory, processor speed, audio playback quality and listening options like bluetooth.

The real issue continues to be content and what types of content will drive the growth of radio-like content on the mobile phone. Is it shorter form segments from Howard Stern or is it a guy like Robin Williams talking about underwater basket weaving. The other question is whether audio content on the mobile phone needs to be interactive and integrate listener conversations. These are the issues that we at Mobilcast are pondering.

Rob Greenlee

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