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Why There Are Free Podcasts


Podcasting, unlike other media forms, almost never hascharges for services, and the vast majority of feedproducers distribute free podcasts. This puts at oddswith, say, online radio stations, news sites that offermedia to subscribers, or the online music industrygeneral. Even though podcasting has very directcorrelations with industries like news and music thathave strong business models, podcasting differs. Podcasting does not really have a business model, andhardly anyone is podcasting in order to profit from it. There are some businesses and news sites that podcast,but they do it as a way to supplement their companiesand to gain technological geek credibility, not to makemoney. This is an odd thing, but explainable in light ofwhat podcasting is.

The free podcast problem is not difficult, and podcasting differs in several key ways from other mediaareas. First, podcasting involves the physical transfer ofa file from the host to the users computer. An onlineradio station does not do this; all that they provide totheir listeners is a streaming sound file that cannot besaved without difficulty and work. If someone didmanage to do so, the station would have strong groundsfor suing them since they were never given the rights tokeep and store the files. By podcasting the complete fileto the users computer, express permission is granted theuser to copy and use as they wish. Second, the podcastsare, for the most part, made by individuals who havelow costs involved in creating and distributing the files,as opposed to a news broadcast or song by a musiccompany. These individuals have little reason to chargefor their work since there is little cost to them to do so.Because the files are distributed in a way allows theircopying and does not control the media, and since podcasting is a very low cost media outlet, feed producers have little reason or ability to charge for theirwork.

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