"No doubt about it, podcasting is growing in popularity. More people than ever are downloading audio files for listening on music players and other electronic devices. The question is: Are they doing it with much regularity? More to the point, how long before masses trade in the daily paper for the daily download? Not anytime soon, judging from a report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
The study, which polled nearly 3,000 adults in August, concluded that roughly 12% of Internet users have downloaded podcasts in order to listen in at a later time. That's up from 7% of Web surfers who downloaded podcasts early this year. Most tuning into podcasts, however, are sampling shows available when they have some time, rather than subscribing and regularly listening to particular programs, according to the study. In fact, only 1% of Internet users reported downloading podcasts on a typical day. A March study by Forrester Research (FORR) came to a similar conclusion, finding that while 2% of North American Internet users have tried podcasts, only 1% tune in regularly.
Pew report author Mary Madden says the study shows that, while people are becoming more comfortable watching or listening to programs on their computer, they are far from tuning in with any regularity. "It is difficult to tell how much of [podcasting] is going to become part of their regular rhythm with people downloading shows to their iPod to take on their morning commute, for example," says Madden. "For some, it will. But I think those people, at least at this point, will be the exception."
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