Compared to radio, podcasts have a short history. Podcasting is rooted in early 2000s audioblogging, so the art is still considered very young. But that doesn't mean the field is devoid from any interesting fun facts! Previously, we served you 10 crazy fun facts related to radio. This week, we're giving podcasting its turn.
From mind-blowing statistics to social media failures and even a celebrity endorsement, the history of podcasting is an interesting one. We're sure the activity will grow and develop in the future to allow for more fun facts. But for now, here are 5 bits of trivia you should know about podcasts!
1. Sweden Leads the World in Podcast Consumption
In 2021, the German market and consumer data firm Statista released a report titled "Where Podcasts Are Most Popular." According to surveys of 1,000 to 5,700 respondents per country, Sweden topped the list of 54 countries surveyed for podcast consumption. The Nordic podcast leader is followed by Ireland and Brazil.
A grand total of 47% of Swedish respondents indicated they listened to a podcast in the last 12 months. Granted, some of those people listened to podcasts without even knowing it - for example, listening or watching podcast shows on YouTube. Still, it beat out the U.K., U.S., Canada, and Australia. In those countries, only a third of respondents said they listened to a podcast in the last 12 months.
2. Twitter Was Born from a Failed Podcasting Platform
Twitter is one of the most influential social media sites on the internet. But unlike Facebook, Intstagram, or TikTok, it wasn't originally intended to be used as a social media platform.
Launched in July 2005, Noah Glass' original company was called AudBlog. The idea was that a user would call a telephone number, which would then turn their recorded message into an audio file hosted on the internet. Basically, a speech-to-podcast converter. Pretty revolutionary at the time.
Glass and Evan Williams teamed up to form what is considered to be the "MySpace" of podcasting platforms, Odeo. However, once Apple announced the launch of iTunes - which included podcasts on each of its iPod devices - Glass and Williams knew Odeo wouldn't last.
The duo tried to think of other ideas. Thankfully, one of the company employees, Jack Dorsey, brought up the idea of how “statuses” were becoming popular and people loved to share their thoughts through social media. Glass came up with the word “Twitter,” and the company developed from there - officially founded on March 21, 2006. As for Odeo, the platform expired in 2017.
3. One of the First MP3 "Podcasts" Was a Track from The Grateful Dead
While working on the creation of RSS feeds, podcasting pioneer Dave Winer was asked to develop something that, at the time, was known as audioblogging. RSS only worked with text, but with Adam Curry's help, the pair figured out a solution to include large file types.
By early 2001, Winer discovered how to aggregate MP3 files into RSS. On January 11, 2001, Winer posted on his Scripting News weblog to show he had been able to include an MP3 track. His chosen track was “Truckin” by The Grateful Dead. That began a routine where Winer would post hi-fidelity Grateful Dead songs to his weblog every day.
4. Microsoft Wasn’t Happy That ‘Podcast’ Was Named After the iPod
Back in 2004, The Guardian reporter Ben Hammersley was tasked with an article on audio blogging. Due to its growing popularity, Hammersley suggested some words in his piece to establish a name for the sensation, commenting, “but what to call it [the new technology]? Audioblogging? Podcasting? GuerillaMedia?”
Surprisingly, his term "podcasting" stuck with audiences. By 2005, the word was such common knowledge, it had been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Everyone was happy about it...except for Microsoft.
iPod used a media format rivaling the then-popular Windows Media Player, so it made it difficult for Microsoft employees to affirm the new word and its attachment to Apple's iPod. Microsoft tried to subtly slip the term “blogcast” into the mainstream, but of course, that failed. Maybe in an alternate universe, people are submitting their "blogcasts" to Spotify, iTunes, and Stitcher.
5. Ricky Gervais Helped Popularize Podcasts
Yes, Ricky Gervais: that British comedian who was basically the original Michael Scott on The Office and roasted a bunch of celebrities at the 2020 Golden Globes. After the success of The Office, Gervais saw the potential of the podcast in helping grow his fanbase. He started to release his own podcasts regularly and by February 2006, he held the world record for the most-downloaded podcast!
The Guardian reported at the time that The Ricky Gervais Show averaged more than 260,000 downloads a week during its first month. This stat got him the most-downloaded podcast spot in the 2007 Guinness World Book of Records. Whatever people may think of Gervais and his cringe comedy, there's no denying he helped podcasts become the popular medium they are today. You can listen to the first episode of his podcast - which includes Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington as guests - below.
Those are all the podcasting fun facts we have for now. Keep an eye out for more podcast history-related posts coming to the Live365 blog very soon! Until then, happy podcasting.
- Podcast History: 5 Surprising Facts You Probably Didn’t Know - Backtracks
- Less Fear, More Result: 7 Interesting Facts about Podcasting Тhat We Would Never Have Predicted - Podcastle
- Why is Sweden the world leader in podcast listening? - The Fix
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