Tag Archives: media

Hulu and the Mouse

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Streaming media has won. The mouse now owns an equity stake in Hulu.com, and will start pushing their content through the portal. I take this as a pretty sure sign that the Hulu model is, at least for now, the clear winner in the race for new distribution models.

Welcome to the new century, Disney. Glad to see you finally made it. Now I can prop my kids up on their stools, tape open their eyelids, and pump HSM3 into their tender little minds 24 hours a day!

The Media Elite (or, The Fallacy of Neutrality)

I watched most of both major parties’ conventions streaming on C-SPAN. I don’t have TV (a lack for which I am more and more grateful every day this political season drags on), so it was online or nothin’. All the major networks and many cable outlets offered their coverage online, but I have to tell ya: I can only take so much talking head. So it was C-SPAN for me.

In addition to what seemed to be contempt for community organizing, I was struck by the outrage expressed by many of the RNC speakers regarding the “media elite.” Now, charges of media bias are nothing new in politics; everybody’s heard of the librul media. And I readily recognize that the unique circumstances of Gov. Sarah Palin being picked as the GOP running mate torched off what can legitimately be called a (an over-?) zealous media frenzy. (To ask what I think is a fair question, wasn’t that kinda the point?) But what threw me off a bit was the implied assumption that the news media (I assume that’s who they mean when they say “media elite”) should be impartial.

Stop the presses! some of you are saying. Isn’t journalistic neutrality something that should be assumed?

Here’s the thing: I don’t know. I know there is a long tradition of “serious” journalists (and schools of journalism) preaching objectivity and “disinterestedness” (as they like to call it); I’m just not sure, in our age of reality TV and the 24-hour news cycle, that it’s even a possibility.

But I’m also not sure that’s a bad thing.

Am I the only one who finds it a bit reassuring to know where most everybody stands? Man, I love checking in on The National Review Online and The Weekly Standard to see what David Frum and crazy ol’ neocon Bill Kristol have to say about the underhanded plotting of The Evil Left. And I love peeking in on the ganga-fueled ravings of the Kossacks and the merlot-soaked bloviating of The Huffington Post to stay on top of the newest conspiracies hatched by The Evil Right. I love PajamasMedia and the whole roll over at The Atlantic. And I love watching Jon Stewart make hearty and delectable mincemeat pie of the whole shebang on The Daily Show. (I draw the line at watching FOX News, but there are 8 million+ people covering that base for me.)

Gone are the days when we could tune in as a nation to trustworthy Walter and know that we were getting the straight poop. And I think maybe it’s okay. (Furthermore, I’m pretty sure there’s no going back outside of some kind of apocalypse, so we may as well roll with the punches, given the alternative.) New media, for better or worse, has given everyone with wifi a soapbox from which to air his or her well- or ill-considered take on the world’s goings on. I, for one, am glad that the “media elite” are no longer the sole arbiters of information.

And when I get tired of all the opinions-couched-as-truth, I can always watch C-SPAN.

One Thousand Sets of Ears, Pt. 2

Yesterday was story time. Today is the technical study. I thought it might be cool to look at some of the things that helped propel The Bible Podcast forward, presented in no particular order, as a guide to anyone else who might think about launching a podcast.

The Title

This has got to be the single biggest factor in moving the site up through search engine rankings. The name of the site is the name of the podcast is the 3-word description of exactly what it’s all about. If you launch a podcast about how awesome bunny slippers are, and title it “The Mr. T Show”, and host it at www.crazy4u.net/mrtpodshow, people have no idea what it is you’re doing. There are packs of raving bunny slipper fans out there searching Google for a podcast that meets their needs, but all they can tell from your page hit is that you’re a confused, possible psychopathic teenage girl. This doesn’t work to your advantage.

Promote One Distribution Channels

Since the very beginning, The Bible Podcast committed to iTunes as its primary distribution channel. I started with the assumption that most of my listeners wouldn’t be podcast people – they would be people venturing out into the world looking for this specific sort of thing (in the same way that most Addison Road readers aren’t really blog people, they’re people who come to this one specific blog). I assumed that most of our listeners would find our blog either through a Google search, or by flipping open iTunes and using the podcast directory search function. The iTunes search results are weighted in favor of popularity (number of subscribers).

podcast openingArmed with this knowledge, I push iTunes as the sole distribution channel for the podcast. If you look at the first page of the site, you’ll see what I mean. I stole this idea from Scribe Music Show (thanks, Trevor), and about 40% of the first-time visitors go directly to iTunes without ever having to visit the site itself. If they do click through to the website, they’ll see a link to iTunes prominently displayed, should they decide to subscribe. If they poke around the site a bit, they’ll find a “How do I listen?” page which, again, directs them to use iTunes to subscribe.

There are many, many good podcast aggregators out there, like Odeo.com, and the podcast is listen in most of these, but these sites are still, by and large, only used by the Nerd Herd. If you walk up to 100 people on the street and ask them about podcasting, they’ll beat you up and take your iPod away. This is LA, after all. But if you were to do it in someplace nice, like Boise, most people, if they knew anything at all about it, would say, “Oh yeah, that’s the button on my iTunes where I can listen to shows people do.”

By committing early to a distribution channel that would be most popular with my average listener, I made my popularity within iTunes artificially high. Instead of a few hundred subscribers scattered across dozens of distribution channels, I had a few hundred subscribers all listening through iTunes. Within the first 6 months, The Bible Podcast was in the top 4 results for the search term “Bible”, which in iTunes means getting banner placement on the search results page.

OurMedia.org

So, you’ve signed up for a fancy new hosting plan with Jim’s Big House of Web Hosting, and you’ve started to do the math. You realize pretty quickly that by the time you hit 100 daily subscribers, at 20 MB per podcast episode, you’re going to rip through your bandwidth in about 8 seconds. What do you do? Well, don’t host the files! OurMedia.org will host your audio and video files for free, and you can directly link them into your site. In other words, your listeners don’t have to click through to Our Media to listen, the files can be embedded directly into your site. There are two advantages to hosting your files off-site. The first is that you don’t have to pay for as much bandwidth. The second, you will pick up some drive-by traffic from people searching through the Our Media site looking for the things your podcast is about. I get about 20 hits a day from people who searched Our Media for the title of a specific book of the bible, and then following the links over to the podcast site.

I should mention that the Our Media servers have been pretty bloaty since the very beginning, and if an episode hasn’t been downloaded in a while, it seems to take forever for the server to actually find it. I eventually switched back over to hosting the audio files myself, instead of using Our Media. Still, I think they were an important part of getting up off the ground.

Content

So, those are some of the early choices that I made with the podcast, that I think contributed to it getting up off the ground. I don’t think they were the biggest factor in the podcast’s success, though. The inescapable truth is that “Content is King”. People come because they want the content. They want to hear the bible read by someone with a clear speaking voice, recorded with good equipment. Everything else is just lipstick, pointing people in the right direction.

I’m curious – anybody else out there in The Roadhouse running a podcast, or thinking of starting one? I’d love to hear your experiences.