Why There Are Free Podcasts
Podcasting, unlike other media forms, almost never has
charges for services, and the vast majority of feed
producers distribute free podcasts. This puts at odds
with, say, online radio stations, news sites that offer
media to subscribers, or the online music industry
general. Even though podcasting has very direct
correlations with industries like news and music that
have strong business models, podcasting differs.
Podcasting does not really have a business model, and
hardly 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 companies
and to gain technological geek credibility, not to make
money. This is an odd thing, but explainable in light of
what podcasting is.
The free podcast problem is not difficult, and
podcasting differs in several key ways from other media
areas. First, podcasting involves the physical transfer of
a file from the host to the users computer. An online
radio station does not do this; all that they provide to
their listeners is a streaming sound file that cannot be
saved without difficulty and work. If someone did
manage to do so, the station would have strong grounds
for suing them since they were never given the rights to
keep and store the files.
By podcasting the complete file
to the users computer, express permission is granted the
user to copy and use as they wish. Second, the podcasts
are, for the most part, made by individuals who have
low costs involved in creating and distributing the files,
as opposed to a news broadcast or song by a music
company. These individuals have little reason to charge
for their work since there is little cost to them to do so.
Because the files are distributed in a way allows their
copying 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 their