Podcast length – Is it too big? The importance of size in podcasting

You may be smirking, but this is a really important topic.

And you’ve got to think about this out of consideration for the person who’s ears you’re sticking your content into.
Stop with the smirking. I’m being serious.

The size / length of your podcast can have a real effect on the amount of people that listen, and the amount of episodes they listen too. Firstly down to time constraints, and secondly, because of bandwidth and storage restrictions.
Now, the beauty of the podcast medium is that if you want to, you can put out a podcast that is 4 hours long, every single day. There are no restrictions on what you can put out there. But the length and regularity could massively impact on your life, and the amount of listeners you get. And I’m guessing you might just want people to listen to your show…
There are some simple equations – the more content you put out, the more content you have to source and produce. The more shows you do, the more time you have to commit to making them.

But these factors also demand more of your audience. And because of that you’re going to have to keep that ego in check, and think about how and when your target audience might be listening. I encourage you to think about exactly who your audience is and, importantly, where your show fits into their lives.
Think about who you want to be listening. And really think about their day. If your podcast is all about smoking weed and playing video games, then heck, they can probably listen to as much as you can put out.
If you’re doing a daily 20 minute business podcast and aim it for the go getter to listen to in the gym then that may well sync perfectly with your niche.
But that said, there are a lot of other people competing for this Avatars time. Take out work and family time and sleeping and they have about 4 hours of free time. That’s time to phone their friends, read a book, binge on a box set, play video games, skype their mum, or tinker with that boat they are building in their basement.

And there are other things they can do like hit the gym and take a bath or go for a run where they can all be listening (by the way am I the only one that can run a lot further listening to a podcast than to music?) but even then their ears are in demand: Their favourite radio station; that audiobook they were recommended; the recording of that meeting last Thursday; their workout playlist; and that TED talk about maximising your time.
And this is only the things that they want to be listening too – I’ve not even mentioned all the unwanted interactions they are subjected to – those PPI and Motor Liability spam calls, calls from that one friend who always is having a crisis, and your ex/date that didn’t quite take the hint.

The other reason to consider the length of your show is the amount of data people will use in downloading it. This is not only affected by the length, but also the compression you use and how often you release a new episode.

Again the equation is fairly straight forward: smaller files take up less room on your subscriber’s phones, and use up less of their data allowance.
A 10 minute show at 128 kbps comes out roughly at 10MB. Now this is not a great deal, but if you do that show every day that’s 300mb per month. That’s a significant portion of peoples data when you consider some people in the UK may only have 500mb for all their data. And even if they download via wifi to listen later, it’s eating into their every decreasing phone memory. Not a really a problem if you are aiming your show at people with the latest gadgets and large disposable income, but for most people this should be a consideration. Depending on your content and how good the recording is there are a number of options here without making any edits or time alterations. For example, for a purely speech based podcast, dropping the mp3 compression to 96kbps will save you a lot of data – just be aware that any jingles or music spots you have can start to distort.

Making a small show is not going to guarantee listeners; likewise there are plenty of long podcasts out there with massive audiences. But if you want to grow you podcast, just being aware of the limitations around that can help you shape your product moving forward. We all want more people to listen to more shows, and just being able to get those shows onto a new listeners phone is an important step in that process.

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