Until a few years ago I didn't even know what it was. Today I couldn't do without it. I realized that, even if it's a growing phenomenon, there aren't many people who really know the answer to the question What a podcast is? Before the arrival of the internet, this technology did not exist, while today an ecosystem is being created that sees many players involved.
Therefore, there begins to be a need to clarify and give the podcast a meaning, tell its story and its development. I'll tell you about it in this article.
Let's start with the meaning of podcast. The term podcast was born in 2004 from the combination of two words iPod - which literally means “pod” or “capsule” - and Broadcast - which indicates the massive diffusion of a radio broadcast. It is the journalist of the "Guardian" Ben Hammersley to use it for the first time in an article dedicated to the evolution of listening on demand to radio broadcasts following the introduction on the market of the mp3 player from Apple.
The development of RSS ( Really Simple Syndication ) technology, one of the most popular formats for the distribution of content via the web, together with the new iPod device gives rise to the spread of a new audio content format. From here we understand how much Apple has been instrumental in the development of podcasts. It is in fact the first to create a dedicated section within iTunes.
However, this does not explain what a podcast is. To give a more complete definition of the podcast we can say that it is unpublished native audio content usable via the internet through a computer or an mp3 device.
On the other hand, we can say what a podcast is not :
The characteristics of the podcast can be summarized as follows:
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After explaining what a podcast is, I want to mention its history which is in itself interesting and marked by decisive moments.
At the beginning of the 2000s, following the two great technological innovations, iPod and RSS feed , it was mainly radio broadcasters who put some programming programs online for delayed listening. Alongside these replicas, the first experiments of mostly journalistic editorial productions appear, demonstrating the public's first interest in on-demand content.
The real turning point came in 2014 with the release of A True Crime Podcast Series which tells a story that took place in the United States in 1999. The episodic story, expertly created with a mix of voices, sounds, music, and stories rekindled the attention on this new medium, the podcast.
The episodes are so captivating as to trigger that bulimic desire to immediately listen to the next ones, typical of TV series. This is in fact the first podcast series to create a boom in ratings and launch the phenomenon, although still mostly limited to Apple users.
Spotify will think about it in 2018 to help expand the listening market for Android users. After the acquisition of Gimlet Media and Parcast, it is actually a player in a rapidly expanding market.
But the podcast has never been as popular as in recent months. The statistics released by Voxnest at the end of 2019 already showed a strong increase in audiences compared to the previous 12 months but the trend continued to grow double-digit in 2022 with a +40% compared to last 3 years (source Nielsen).