Gervais takes a step backward

As noted on TCAL, The amazingly popular Ricky Gervais Podcast, which has completed it’s 12 episode run recently is set for a second series beginning on 28th February. The show, which has been recorded in the Guinness Book or Records as the most downloaded Podcast in the world, recorded an average of 261,670 downloads a week in its first month and was hailed by many as the first real mainstream step into a typically offbeat pass-time.
The success of the show was probably due to a number of facts. The show was free, it was original content (rather than a re-run of the XFM radio shows) and it featured a world famous and critically acclaimed comedian. Now, however, at least one of those facts are due to change; the second series of the show will only be available to paying customers.
As mentioned before on this blog, charging for podcasts is not a unique phenomenon however this is one of the first podcast-unique shows to begin a charge and its popularity is sure to make the result much more interesting.
Listenership of the show is certain to drop dramatically once charges are introduced; that’s not to say that it will not be a profitable move. It is unlikely, however, to be something that will be much copied at present, not many podcasters have the same clout as Gervais does, certainly not in the mainstream market.
It will be some time, in my opinion, until podcasts are used to their best effect. Podcasts need to shake off the shakles that mainstream radio seems desperate to impose upon it. They should not be seen as vehicles for radio re-runs; this relegates them to little more than Video Plus enabled VCR’s for the iPod generation. They medium will stay in the domain of ‘geeks’ and home broadcasters as long as people at the fore of traditional communication ignore their potential and resist the urge to charge.

2 Comments

  1. Agree mostly with what you’re saying. Gervais will succeed with the pay-to-listen deal. I’m not usually one to pay for anything off the net, but I’ll say that already in our office, there are already 3 people that have signed up this morning, including myself. It also has produced a lot of goodwill. I know I could pirate the show, but I actually want to pay for this, because I enjoy it.

    On your other point though, I don’t see the problem in using podcasts for radio re-runs? If its what people want to listen to then what’s the problem? I’d rather listen to a decent commercial radio show replayed than some rubbish a Star Trek fans put together in his basement.

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  2. Administrator 20/02/2006 at 16:27

    If any podcast is going to succeed commercially, it will be this one.

    As for radio re-runs, I don’t have a problem with them in general I just think that there is so much more Radio could be doing with Podcasts; extra unaired content for example.
    I want to see Podcasting branch out away from an exclusively geek pursuit and that will only happen when mainstream media (or popular public figures) begin to do something unique; say you listen to a radio show which features interviews, and at the end of the hour long show the presenter says “that’s all for now, but if you want to hear the extended interview and additional stories you can download the podcast on http://www.mywebsite.com“. That’s much more appealing than just using the service as a repeat function.

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