Media Demographics

Friday, 26 May 2006

A lecturer at a West Yorkshire university has abolished traditional lectures in favour of podcasts. Dr Bill Ashraf, a senior lecturer in microbiology at Bradford University, says the move will free up time for more small group teaching.

He told The Times Higher Education Supplement that first year biochemistry students would watch or listen to virtual lectures in their own time.

Students will access the podcasts via their MP3 player, phone or computer.

Text questions

Students will ask questions about lectures via text message, which will be answered in Dr Ashraf’s blog.

The lecturer has also been putting his appointment times online so students can check if he is available or book a meeting without coming into the university.

Dr Ashraf said the move would better suit the needs of distance learners, part-time students and those balancing studies with family and work.

He said: “Some lecture classes have 250 students, so I question the effectiveness of a didactic lecture for an hour.”



23 January 2006

By Torin Douglas
BBC media correspondent

Radio presenter Chris Moyles

Radio 1’s Chris Moyles is the BBC’s most popular podcast

Suddenly, it seems, podcasting has broken through to a new level.

The BBC’s first published podcast chart reveals that the Radio Four Today programme’s main interview was downloaded more than 400,000 times last month, second only, among BBC programmes, to Radio One’s Chris Moyles Show.

But the real change is in the way other media groups are now using podcasts to challenge broadcasters such as the BBC.

Last week, The Guardian newspaper announced that the Ricky Gervais Show had been downloaded over two million times, having already topped the Apple iTunes download charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Now other media owners are racing to get into the audio business.

After the Gervais podcast on Guardian Unlimited, the Conservative leader David Cameron popped up in the new Daily Telegraph podcast. Two days later, it was Tony Blair, podcast by The Sun, which said it was as significant a breakthrough as the first radio broadcast by a prime minister, Ramsay MacDonald in 1924.

Then last Friday, Jon Snow appeared in Channel 4’s first podcast, a documentary about cannabis and the young.

Print radio

The first sign of the potential for other media to get podcasting emerged two months ago.

We have a role in helping our audience find the best of what’s out there and we also have an opportunity to identify the rising talent emerging through podcasts

Simon Nelson, BBC Radio and Music

“What actually happened is that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant approached us to say they wanted to explore the idea of doing a show through our website” said Emily Bell, editor-in-chief of Guardian Unlimited.

“I think they wanted to work in a format where they were in complete control of what they put out, but also to put it out to a wider audience.”

The Daily Telegraph has gone further, appointing its own podcast editor, Guy Ruddle. He arrived from the BBC earlier this month and says you can now listen to the Telegraph’s business news and sports reports, as an alternative to Today’s.

“We are the only newspaper that is doing anything vaguely resembling a daily news bulletin, with news and comment and analysis,” he said.

“That to me is the future – the ability to give people an audio version of the newspaper and, eventually, for them to be able to scroll through items and pick out bits they want to listen to or not.”

The Telegraph also features its own columnists, some reading out their own words, which can sound a bit stilted at the moment, something Guy Ruddle, as a professional broadcaster, will no doubt sort out.

But on Friday, it had something more exciting, the first broadcast interview with one of its columnists, the Olympic and trans-Atlantic rower James Cracknell. It caught the moment as he reached land with broadcaster Ben Fogle, who had nearly drowned when their boat capsized.

Radio role

Is the move into podcasts by rival media a threat to radio broadcasters? Simon Nelson, head of new media for BBC Radio and Music, believes not.

A new video iPod

Digital music players such as the iPod are used to listen to podcasts

He says the huge demand for podcasts, including BBC programmes such as From Our Own Correspondent and In Our Time, shows the enduring relevance of radio in the digital world, wherever it comes from.

“I think we see our role as trying to stimulate that, trying to help people find the ways to do it simply,” he said.

“We have a role in helping our audience find the best of what’s out there and we also have an opportunity to identify the rising talent emerging through podcasts.”

The Ricky Gervais Show has demonstrated the potential, and the threat, for broadcasters. Gervais and Merchant were previously on the commercial radio station XFM and have also broadcast for Radio 2.

Since they started the online show for The Guardian, has proved a runaway hit for the newspaper.

“The scale of it has certainly surprised us,” said Ms Bell, “and opens up lots of possibilities for non-traditional broadcasters to get into an area that perhaps they wouldn’t have thought about.”


By Jonathan Fildes
BBC News science and technology reporter

Monday, 10 April 2006

Man wearing headphones next to a computer

Companies want to know who is listening to podcasts

People downloading to podcasts are still in a minority, despite the hype surrounding them, research suggests.

The number of US households listening to podcasts will increase to just 12 million by 2010, a Forrester Research report has found.

Tech savvy, young males are most likely to listen to take away audio it said.

But a survey by research firm BMRB found that nearly eight million Britons will go in search of a podcast in the next six months.

The different numbers could suggest that UK consumers are a bunch of technophiles, much happier to dip their toe into the water than their US counterparts, or that coming up with these numbers is an imprecise science.

Charlene Li, one of the authors of the Forrester report admitted on her blog that “measurement is still really hard to do”.

In particular she said that “counting podcast downloads is a dubious way to measure usage.”

Difficult numbers

Podcasts seem to have had a meteoric rise, moving from the preserve of a few interested techies to the technology of choice for any company trying to appeal to the digital generation.

It is like a radio broadcast, but one that you can download from the internet to any MP3 player, not just an iPod as the name suggests.

Hand holding an iPod

One of challenges with podcasting is that there are no audited or reliable reporting mechanisms

Sarah Prag, BBC

You can use pieces of software to automatically gather the podcasts and pop them straight on to your player, meaning that you always have the latest programme in your pocket.

The technology has got traditional broadcasters excited and worried at the same time. The technology gives them a new opportunity to distribute their programmes and potentially a whole new audience.

But podcasting is cheap. All you need is a laptop, a microphone and a bit of a flair for technology and you can create your own programmes.

As a result broadcasters are worried that their market share will be washed away over night by a torrent of amateur broadcasters and companies that look on podcasts as a useful way to get their message out.

Hence, broadcasters, advertising companies and financial institutions are all clamouring to work out who is online, where they’re downloading and what they’re listening to.

Tiny audience

The survey of 5,000 US consumers by Forrester found that 3% had tried listening to a podcast.

Of them, 2% had experimented with audio downloads but did not listen on a regular basis.

Girl with headphones at a computer

Fewer women download and listen to podcasts

There will be just 700,000 diehard downloaders in the US this year; a tiny audience compared to the 25 million people who tune into stations run by traditional broadcaster National Public Radio (NPR) every week.

The report says that it will take a long time for people to ditch their transistors and join this small group of breakaways because downloading programmes is complicated and content is sparse.

However, the good news for broadcasters is that the people who persevere gravitate towards audio from established radio stations rather than relative newbies.

Rough guess

The Forrester survey backs up some of the findings in a report from another research firm, BMRB.

Its survey looked at digital consumption in the UK. It also found that podcasts are the preserve of young males.

But it predicts a much quicker uptake of podcasts in UK households, with around eight million adults logging on and walking away with their favourite radio programmes in their pocket by September this year.

The huge discrepancy between the figures for the US and the UK could point to relative differences in listening habits, online dexterity or even national character.

It could also reflect just how difficult it is to make these predictions.

Digital listeners

Even broadcasters can only take a rough guess at many people are actually listening to their podcasts.

Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles

Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles tops the BBC downloads

“One of challenges with podcasting is that there are no audited or reliable reporting mechanisms,” said Sarah Prag, a senior project manager responsible for the BBC podcast trial. From next week, the BBC will offer 50 different podcasts.

In February, the latest month for which statistics are available, 1.7 million people downloaded BBC content. The Chris Moyles show on BBC Radio 1 is the most popular.

But according to Ms Prag that only tells the BBC how many files are downloaded. It does not say anything about the number of individuals or whether people are even listening to the files.

However the kinds of programmes people are listening to does give a hint about digital demographics.

Programmes like In Our Time and From Our Own Correspondent on BBC Radio 4 are not the kinds of programmes people normally associated with the MP3 generation, said Ms Prag.

“You would expect Chris Moyles to do well but what this tells us is that Radio 4 is doing extraordinarily well,” she told the BBC News website.

“It’s knocked some of our assumptions on the head.”


Teenager on internet

Young adults are moving away from traditional media

The “networked generation” is driving a radical shift in media consumption, says UK telecoms regulator Ofcom. Sixteen to 24 year olds are spurning television, radio and newspapers in favour of online services, says the regulator’s study.

The 2006 Ofcom report also found that increasingly households are turning to broadband and digital TV.

And it notes 1.8 million homes are now using their broadband connections for internet telephone calls.

This generation has grown up with new technologies – and it is this generation for whom the uptake is instinctive

Spokesman, Ofcom

At a glance: Ofcom report

The Ofcom report analysed industry and consumer trends in television, radio and telecommunications during 2005-6.

It discovered young adults, whom it has dubbed the “networked generation”, are embracing new technologies much more quickly than the general population.

Sixteen to 24 year olds, it reports, spend nearly three hours on the net each week.

Seventy percent (compared to 41% of the general population) have used some kind of social networking site, such as My Space, and one in five have their own website or blog. Half of the group owns a games console and/or an MP3 player.

Shifting habits

Ofcom’s research suggests this online lifestyle may have contributed to a fall in television viewing – this age group watch seven hours less television per week than the average viewer.

But when they do watch TV, it found they are turning away from public service broadcasting in favour of digital channels.

The reduced consumption of other media, such as newspapers, magazines and radio, amongst this age-group compared to the general population, has also thought to have been driven by the net.

A spokesman for Ofcom said: “The speed at which consumption habits for this age group is changing is faster than other groups.



“They are leaving the traditional media and moving towards new media.

“This generation has grown up with new technologies – and it is this generation for whom the uptake is instinctive.”

Kay Withers, a research fellow at the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), said: “There have been lots of studies showing the younger generation are shifting away from traditional to new media, but at IPPR we are seeking to understand why this is and what this means.

“We want to find out what it means to turn away from newspapers and public service broadcasting, and to find out the types of news sources they are now favouring.

“This could have a major impact on media regulation, public policy and on the political world too.”

Connected households

The report also found technology adoption is not limited to the young.

From 2004 to 2005, the number of households with broadband connections increased by 63%, while a total of 18.3m homes now have digital television.

Ofcom also said that a number of “converged services” had arrived on the market, such as internet telephony, internet television offerings and television to mobile content.

Mobile phones are also playing an increasingly important role; Ofcom found as many households had a mobile phone as had a landline.

But despite increased consumption, the average household spend on telecoms fell by 5% to £76 a month between 2004 and 2005.

Ofcom chief operating officer Ed Richards said: “Our research reveals dramatic and accelerating changes across all communications industries.

“The sector is being transformed by greater competition, falling prices and the erosion of traditional revenues and audiences.”

Graphic (BBC)


Youth spend more time on Web than TV-study:

NEW YORK, July 24 (Reuters) – Teenagers and young adults spend more time on the Internet than watching television, indicating a shift in media consumption for a demographic prized by advertisers, said a new study released on Thursday.

The survey of 2,618 people, aged 13 to 24, was conducted by independent research firms Harris Interactive and Teenage Research Unlimited in mid-June on behalf of Internet media company Yahoo Inc. (nasdaq: YHOO – news – people) and media services company Carat North America.

On average, young people said they spent nearly 17 hours online each week, not including time used to read and send electronic mail, compared with almost 14 hours spent watching television and 12 hours listening to the radio, the study said.

A majority of youth polled said they are also likely to be engaging in other activities while using the Internet, such as listening to radio or talking on the telephone. Many said they were most likely to look on the Internet for information on movie and music reviews or celebrity news.

“While other generations are more likely to be wed to a single type of media…today’s teens and young adults are not overwhelmed by the abundance of media choices…but rather feel empowered by it and are able to multi-task,” the study said.

Wenda Harris Millard, chief sales officer at Yahoo, said teens and young adults are using the Internet as the “hub” of their media activity.

“There’s a lot in the study that shows this is a primary medium for information, product information, pricing information, school needs,” she said. “It would never occur to them to go to a newspaper to look up a movie time.”