Is Podcasting a Profitable Venture?

With podcasting’s popularity booming as well as other free internet goodies, there also comes the temptation of earning quite a lump of change in the process.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

There are success stories out there like Kevin Rose, who as rumor has it, owns a multi-million dollar company known as Revision 3. Is it really that profitable of a business?

There are those who cringe at the idea of profiting off of pirated material. There are large media corporations that cringe at the idea of file-sharing in general. So here’s an interesting twist, creators and authors using the Internet solely as a means of earning a profit while just giving away their material for free. It might be the kind of idea that completely flips the entire business model that corporate giants use upside down and it may be speculated that it’s exactly what the media industry is scared.

Enter the independent thinkers, artists and creators. They don’t work for the giant media corporations, they embrace P2P technology as a tool instead of trying to destroy it, and they are much more interested in what users think instead of what the overall organization deems “appropriate.” The Internet has leveled the playing field for these individuals.

For distributing works, it seems that BitTorrent is their choice application and they flatly reject the idea of DRM. They put their e-Mail online and, in some instances, respond relatively quickly. With all these tools ready to use, it’s hard for some to even consider profiting off of something you are just giving away for free.

This is something people are actually doing. Unlike Don Hertzfeldt or Roosterteeth Productions, these people rely on people downloading their top quality material before even hoping to see any sign of a profit. A few people who are doing this are Revision 3 and Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc. Both seem to have a similar goal to make it possible to sustain a podcast financially, but they both have two very different styles.

Ziff Davis’s podcast, Digital Life TV, uses plain advertising in their podcasts like regular TV. Revision 3’s podcast, most notably, Diggnation, places their advertisements at the beginning and at the end of every podcast. Both seem to work at sustaining their podcast. So far, Kevin Rose has the most noticeable success when the profits earned him and his co-host a trip to Japan to shoot an episode in Tokyo. This certainly comes as a change to the typical trips in the United States (which did include a trip up to Canada at one point.)

At this point, Kevin Rose appears to have found a winning combination and the key to making a living off of true podcasting (meaning the top quality product is available for free downloading without the pain of signing up or any sort of mandatory subscription scheme.)

This is just one instance of someone living pretty well off of podcasting. The question remains, even with what is happening today, is podcasting a profitable venture? It is certainly much more user friendly then a nameless Sony BMG rootkit/Sunncomm product. If it is profitable, could this be the real future for TV and not HDTV as many large corporations are trying to lead people into?

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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