January 6, 2011

The king of podcasting’s eye-popping numbers

Photo from Leo LaPorte’s Flickr stream

JD LasicaIf you’ve spent any time in the tech world, then you surely have run across Leo Laporte, who runs a podcasting empire from his home base in Petaluma, Calif.

I’ve bumped into Leo at a dozen tech events over the past few years, from the Portable Media Expo (photo, now BlogWorld, in 2005 to South by Southwest and BlogWorld Expo in 2009 to appearing on his TechTV show, then in Toronto, in 2005 and speaking with him on a panel at the Producers Guild. Leo’s a friend.

These days, I watch his TWiT netcast on my Roku device and subscribe to his podcasts and listen to them at the gym. (I also was a recent guest on Denise Howell’s This Week in Law program, part of the TWiT network.) And this week Leo and crew are netcasting live from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

So it was eye-opening to read the recent New York Times profile of Leo, which offered some stats about his podcasting efforts, since I’ve been chronicling the grassroots media movement since my 2005 book Darknet (podcasting was born in 2004).

At the 2009 BlogWorld Expo, Leo famously declared during his keynote, “Podcasting is dead.” What he really meant, I think, is that podcasting is still too difficult to pull off for amateur media makers, and that only a handful of people will be able to make a living by podcasting.

Leo’s the exception. For 30 hours each week, he and the other hosts on his network talk about technology for shows that he distributes online for free. Some figures from the Times article:

• “This Week in Tech” is downloaded by about 250,000 people each week.

• He produces 22 other tech podcasts that are downloaded 5 million times a month.

• His weekend radio show on computers, “The Tech Guy,” reaches 500,000 more people through 140 stations.

• TWIT’s advertising revenue doubled in each of the last two years and is expected to total $4 million to $5 million for 2010, according to Podtrac.

• In addition, $20,000 a month in voluntary contributions comes in from the TWIT website.

• The iTunes store from Apple, where about 75 percent of the audience for podcasts looks for fresh material, contains about 150,000 regular shows.

• Only one out of four American adults has ever listened to a podcast.

This multifaceted approach, friends, is how media making will increasingly look in the 21st century.JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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One thought on “The king of podcasting’s eye-popping numbers

  1. I live in the mountains and have long stretches of road where broadcast and satellite radio are not available, so I learned to love podcasts a long time ago. I think there are two factors limiting broad podcast utilization. The first is the often cumbersome and not-so-transparent process of downloading them. The other is the geeky name.