Is Downloading Dead?

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Welcome to the first of many posts regarding my Online Audio Drama Listener Survey. We had 77 responses overall and I’d like to thank everyone who took time to participate, and also to help share the survey link with others. Over the next few weeks we’ll take a closer look at some of the results. I don’t yet have access to the individual response statistics where we will be able to examine some age/gender patterns in detail – hopefully that will change by mid-next week.

From looking at the graph above, Question 6 in the survey, we can see that 35% of respondents are still downloading audio drama and syncing shows to the iPod or MP3 player. With Smartphone listening (presumably streaming more than downloading) at 40% this was much closer than I had expected. With the rise of Smartphone technology, and directories/apps like Stitcher I had the impression that the podcast community was beginning to regard downloading on to a device as a bit antiquated, and we’re now seeing much more focus on directory artwork (where every week now it seems that they are trying to outdo each other with their imagine size requirements – we’ll soon need to go to the cinema to listen to an MP3 if it gets any worse) than metadata and ID3 tags.

Is this a trend purely within audio drama, or does it extend to podcasting on a whole? That is difficult to say. Certainly many podcasts will be listened to more passively than audio fiction, where you need to be following all that is going on or risk losing the story. Some people have replaced their radio with podcasts in recent years, and maintain the habit of having shows on ‘in the background’ whilst tuning in and out of the conversation, is it likely that these listeners are happy enough to stream content rather than download it? Perhaps the lack of audio drama (a drop in the ocean compared to the number of podcasts out there) encourages fans to download as they will probably listen to their favourite shows twice or more.

It seems obvious that downloading will die out in the future, but rumours of its death at this stage seem great exaggerated.


2 thoughts on “Is Downloading Dead?

    Brilliant Living HQ said:
    October 11, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Thanks for this article, Matthew and interesting to read the results of your Online Audio Drama Listener Survey. Like all the content we have at our fingertips, and the technologies we have for accessing that content, the way in which we access those materials ever changes alongside the growing channels and relative ease of accessing that material. I think the push will continue to move toward streaming – though as you say, at this stage reports are ‘greatly exaggerated’. Is this another case of video killed the radio star? Or CD announcing the death of Vinyl? As Bob Dylan would say: ‘The times they are a changing!’


    Liam Kerrington said:
    October 12, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Hello and thank you for the article.
    I am not certain that downloading will become irrelevant in the more or less far future. The reasons for this are basically these things:
    a) smartphones and tablets with mobile connectivity (GPS/UMTS/ LTE/ whatever comes next) require two things for proper streaming – good coverage of a “cellular radio network” and especially mobile communication contracts with huge data-transfer-packages (in Germany and Europe for example this is an issue); if either one of them or both are limited, people will stick to downloading content on their devices in order or to have them available anywhere anytime;
    b) streaming platforms, although they are quite reliable these days, have downtimes every now and then or suffer from heavy traffic on release dates for new episodes; especially with regards to the first scenario people might consider to download the files instead of waiting for another time to get it done; ok, you might argue that with cloud-computing and cloud-data-storage-services this won’t be an issue at all; but please keep in mind that your first step is still the website or IP-adress which allows you to get access to the files, which is the bottleneck in this system; and if that one server or hosting-service is down for reasons like maintenance, updates, etc., then the audio-drama files are not available as well (unless you may have the direct download-link);
    c) having the files downloaded especially on your yomputer, that allows you to keep a private copy of it on like a CD, DVD, storage device (harddisk, flash-disk, etc.); this allows you to have your collection available at anytime anywhere without the need of having any kind of internet-connectivity; having your private copy available in that way also allows you to spread it on your different devices as you please without requiring to connect to the internet with each different device like your smartphone, tablet, PC/ notebook/ laptop, MP3-player, iPod etc.; having the files avilable in that way allows you for far more flexibility and independence with regards to the hoster/ producer/ streaming-service.

    Ok, these are just thoughts I have; I cannot base them on any survey or scientific analysis. But these are the reasons why I download files anytime; and I don’t see me changing this anytime soon. Have you thought about these reasons yourself?

    Please, pardon my English. I am neither from the USA nor any other English-speaking country. But I try hard to keep things as “understandable” as possible; if there is anything about my writing which confuses you, feel free to ask me in order to make me elaborate on it again.

    Best wishes!


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