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A Listener Does Not a Subscriber Make
There's a good article in Wired Magazine today about the rise, or not, of podcasting. It's about two pages long so I won't go into great detail about it here, but I'd like to cover off a few points.

First off, the general tone of the article is that podcasting isn't a prolific as podcasters would like to think. Rob Walch, host of Podcast 411, is heavily quoted in the article. Robb seems to think that "everybody lies through their teeth about their numbers." He bases this on some rudimentary math that Feedburner shows 3.3 million subscriptions for 56,000 feeds which works out to 59 subscribers per feed. That bit of logic is so insanely suspect that I can't believe it made it into print. While Walch acknowleges that a percentage of those feeds are likely dead, I wonder when subscribers became the measuring stick of success in podcasting. I have yet to run across a single stat that shows subscription rate is above 50% of total listenership and many stats show it to be much lower than that. Even with the advent of iTunes 4.9, listeners have made their desires very obvious and most of them don't desire subscription-based podcasts.

John Romeo also laments his subscriber rate:

"I'll have a show where 500 people will watch, but then only 120 are subscribers," said Romeo, who first learned of podcasting from the iTunes 4.9 launch. "The conversion from people who click on a link to becoming subscribers is challenging.
Again, I don't understand why it's "challenging" to convert listeners to subscribers. Why, exactly, does John even bother thinking about converting listeners to subscribers when it's plainly clear from his own stats that his listeners don't want to get his show that way?

I expect concern about subscription rates from new podcasters, but to see guys like Walch and Romeo in angst about it concerns me. Subscription rates are not important, folks, total listenership is important. Basing listenership on subscriber numbers is like counting cars all day- but not the black and red ones. Meaningless.

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