Will It Be LookRadio, A
Webcast, a Podcast,
MobiTV or a
Pioneers Smart90, LookRadio, Xingtv and tvinews.net agree
with expert, Jarl
Mohn, that watching
or listening to a little handy with a TV screen, is the
future of personal wireless entertainment.
Most Clear-Channel station performers and syndicators, like Rush Limbaugh, learned about streaming video and pre-recorded DVD programing several years ago from the webcasting/DVD research team working close with VRATelePlay and Clear-Channel Entertainments in Burbank, California. Of couse, it didn't take long for Rush to become one of the first big name radio performers to jump into the field of webcasting a radio/tv show.
The Troy Cory LookRadio, WNBS webcasts from Murray, Kentucky, (1991) and from China in 1998, 2000 and 2004, and Limbaugh's daily webcasts from his studios, were the first signs that the grass-roots webcasting movement was going to be eventually taken over by governments, networks and by commercial ventures and powerful brands like GE, RCA Victor, or even the iPod.
Nine AM news stations in Viacom Inc.'s Infinity Broadcasting chain, the BBC World Service and public stations KCRW-FM (89.9) in Santa Monica and WNYC in New York, are now a few of the first stations to join in with the 1998 pioneers of webcasting both systems. The Clear Channel - Network40 people that worked on the VRA project in Burbank, were Victor Caballero and Alden Stubblefield.
Jarl Mohn launched his MobiTV in 2003. On Sprint PCS, MobiTV has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, mostly in the U.S., on carriers that also include Cingular Wireless, Mohn said.
When Idetic reached out to Mohn last November, he said, he was initially reluctant to become a full-time executive again. But after doing extensive research on the cellular sector, he agreed to advise the company if he could become a major investor.
The influx of popular broadcasters could help push mainstream audiences to adopt the new medium, which emerged about a year ago as a hybrid of blogs and radio broadcasting.
Podcasting's steady rise also reflects how computers, digital video recorders and other digital technologies give individuals more control over media and entertainment, said analyst Phil Leigh of Inside Digital Media.
"Is the Internet the best way to broadcast media by both, video on demand, (VOD) -- and a live scheduled broadcast? And the answer is probably yes," Leigh said. "What TiVo is conditioning people to think is, I want my media when I want it . Ultimately, media is going to be consumed on demand."
Podcasting began with people recording and using the Internet to distribute audio programs devoted to their hobbies, hot topics or music they had discovered. The movement was fueled by software that made it easy to beam a podcast from a home computer to anyone who signed up to receive it.
More than 6 million people in the United States have listened to a podcast, according to a recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, and more than 22 million people have portable players that could play them. But at least two important pieces of the podcasting picture are still missing.
Most podcasts are distributed free with no advertising support, so there is no established way to translate the programs into profits. And the major record companies and music publishers have yet to come up with licensing terms for podcasts that use their copyrighted works.
The copyright hurdle is a fundamental problem for would-be podcasters. Programs are typically recorded in the MP3 format, which is compatible with virtually every portable player. But the major record labels have not allowed their music to be distributed as MP3s because the format can be copied freely.
In light of these complexities, radio stations are limiting their podcasts to news and talk shows. And Limbaugh stripped the music out of his podcasts, even the half-minute snippets at the beginning of each segment.
"You know, we pay a rights fee every year for the opening theme song, but it does not include the privilege of copying it hundreds of thousands of times for free so that people can have it on their computers," Limbaugh said, according to a transcript on his website.
Limbaugh's podcasts will be free to people who subscribe to his $50-a-year online service.
He has more than 100,000 subscribers and nearly 20 million listeners to one or more of his shows each week, said Kraig Kitchin, chief executive of Premiere Radio Networks, the Clear Channel Communications subsidiary that syndicates Limbaugh's broadcasts.
The podcasts will include fewer commercials than Limbaugh's radio show, Kitchin said, because only the national spots will be included. But, he said, advertisers are interested in sponsoring podcasts and "will be happy to be time-shifted."
Joel Hollander, chief executive of Infinity Broadcasting, agreed.
"Advertisers are looking for new ways to reach consumers," he said. "We can't just sit here with our terrestrial signal and think technology's going to stop for us."
The audience for podcasts is small today, Kitchin said, but may not be for long.
"The speed of adapting to new technology by the consumer is not to be underestimated," he said. "I want to be sure to be right there at their door when they wake up and say, 'I want to try that.' "
News and talk radio stations may also see podcasting as a way to reclaim some of the listeners they have lost to cable TV channels and Internet news outlets, said Sean Ross, vice president of music and programming for Edison Research.
For example, by letting people listen to his show on demand instead of in his usual time slot, Limbaugh may attract "people who didn't have the energy to give him in the middle of the workday," Ross said.
He added that the radio stations' desire to protect their audience was far different from the original spirit of podcasting, which was to democratize broadcasting by giving anyone with a computer the power to broadcast their musings around the globe. ///
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