I had a conversation recently with a few friends about "podcasts". As someone who has spent some time creating online video content and is interested in online video distribute, I've come to dislike the word. This spite is similar to writers who are called "bloggers" by the mainstream media. Both terms carry a weight that dismisses the creators as amateurs, hobbyists who have no credibility when compared to the mainstream media. While in some cases this may be true, it is painting with a broad brush.
The term "podcasting" reached the mainstream following an article published in The Guardian by Ben Hammersley. In his article, Hammersley explains that the rise of the iPod and MP3 players fosters a new era of amateur broadcasting - "pod-casting", get it?
Apple eventually integrated a podcast section into iTunes, allowing users to subscribe to a show and have it automatically download onto their iPod upon release. For several years, if you wanted your podcast to be successful, you needed it to be on iTunes.
There was no real curating conducted by iTunes of the podcast-content included in their collection, so the quality did greatly vary. The rise of podcasts allowed for anyone with a microphone and an internet connection to share their voice and opinions with the world. I realized this early on and created a 15 episode podcast titled The Student Report with a few friends back in 2006. Today the idea of amateur content production make not seem particularly groundbreaking, but this was before the rise of YouTube and the webcam recordings (vlogs) that now dominate the website.
While it was not feasible to watch high quality videos on dial-up internet, as speeds increased access to online video did as well. Podcasts began to sprout up that would be offered in both audio and video formats. One of the early pioneers of this was Revision3 (now owned by Discovery Networks), a website founded by former TechTV personalities who produced online video/audio content.
Producers like Rev3 beg the question as to whether the term "podcast" is appropriate. While their productions were distributed through iTunes' podcast section (along with the Rev3 website), some of their shows were receiving over 250,000 downloads an episode. Advertisements were integrated into the show with the hosts talking about the products a far more effective means of product promotion. With advertisers like Ford, Adidas, Coors, and Microsoft, this was no amateur broadcasting effort. In fact, these online productions had more viewers than the TV shows many of the hosts left at TechTV.
Within the next decade we will see a fundamental shift in both the distribution and production of video entertainment products. Over the past 10 years we have seen the quality of online video productions become notably more professional. The content and production values of these online videos in many ways compete directly with traditional TV content producers. In the very near future it will not be "TV shows" vs. "Youtube Shows" vs. "Podcasts". It will be "shows".