What Does Google's Embrace of Podcasting Mean? Q&A with Todd Cochrane, CEO of Blubrry
December 4, 2015
Todd Cochrane, the CEO of Raw Voice / Blubrry, is a podcasting pioneer. Recently, his company has done a lot of work to make podcast listening more accessible on Android devices. So when we learned that Google Play Music would be embracing podcasts, I turned to him for his reaction.
1. Far more podcast listening seems to happen on iOS devices than Android devices. Why is that?
My team's opinion is that it has not been as easy to subscribe to shows on Android. I think podcasters are partly to blame as well, as they get tunnel vision when it comes to iTunes; they forget that 50% of smartphone owners are Android users. This is why we introduced One Click Subscribe On Android at NAB Conference this past spring; currently 11 Android podcast apps support it. That effort has started to move the needle, with 50,000+ of our PowerPress podcasters adopting it. This year we also grew the Blubrry.com network, and have updated the directory so Android listeners would have a place to discover podcasts.
2. Up until now, what have been the differences in the way that Apple supports podcasting and the way Google supports podcasting?
There are a number of great Android podcast Apps, and in many ways some of those apps are better than the iOS podcasting app. But Android users have to install an app manually, then subscribe to a show, and that's a lot of steps. Google has never provided a native application or solution for directly listening to podcasts. The biggest advantage for Apple has been the native podcast app in iOS and the association of podcasting with iTunes. To be frank, Apple has been very pro-active since June of 2005 in support of podcast distribution.
3. Your company, Blubrry, has been working on a way to make podcasts more accessible on Android devices. Explain how that works.
On SubscribeOnAndroid.com Android app developers are able to add a snippet of code to their application that allows listeners to implement the same one-click subscribe experience that iOS users have had for years. Android users can simply click on the Subscribe on Android button on a podcaster's website. If listeners have a pre-loaded one-click supported app, then the app loads automatically with show details to subscribe to. If they do not have a supported app, then the listener is directed to SubscribeOnAndroid.com to select one of the 11 Android podcast apps that have implemented it.
4. Google has announced that they will be embracing the world of podcasting. What do we know so far?
They are allowing all shows to submit their podcasts to be listed. I have not heard anyone being denied to date. They have also announced they will be downloading the media once, then encoding it, which is a concern. We do not know yet what bitrate they will encode to. I am hoping that they have 128kbps as a minimum and that they do not repeat the mistakes Stitcher has made; some of the encodes over there sound horrible. Google announced their own specific RSS tags which we've implemented in PowerPress. I expect those tags will expand with time.
One concern I have is that we do not know yet if listeners will be able to subscribe and listen on demand or if the media will only be able to be streamed live. I would hope they honor traditional podcasting, and allow listeners to download the media and listen later. There are so many folks out there who have limited data plans; I would hate to see them handicap listeners and in turn podcasters.
5. What do you think this will mean for podcasting?
If Google provides a native app like iOS, that is installed on all Android devices, regardless of the OEM, the impact will be huge. If it is only implemented on Google Play I am sure we will see a bump in the market share, but they have a lot of work to do if they want to grow the listener base. The challenge with iTunes is that they promote a fairly limited number of shows. If you are not in the top 200 in a specific category you're going to have a hard time being discovered. If Google works on discovery it would help a wide variety of shows, and podcasters will be pro-active in promoting and supporting Google Play Music Podcast listings. It has to be a two-way street.
6. Your company is also behind Powerpress, a very popular WordPress plugin among podcasters. Can you explain what it does?
PowerPress essentially powers the podcasting space for podcasters using WordPress as their CMS. We have 50,000+ active podcasters using PowerPress: being provided an RSS feed on their own domain, SEO tools, Channel, Category and Taxonomy support in WordPress. Most of the large podcasting networks, including radio stations, are using PowerPress. The ability to post, upload, and publish via our plugin, using our hosting and statistics service, is the reason why it is the backbone of tens of thousands of podcasts.
Todd Cochrane is a Podcast Hall of Fame Inductee, and CEO of RawVoice / Blubrry. His podcast, Geek News Central, recently celebrated 11 years and has been sponsored by GoDaddy since 2005 making it the longest continuous sponsored podcast. He is also the co-host of the New Media Show. He resides in Hawaii with his wife and with four children.