Dear Radio Industry:
Please explain to me why this deal is being done by AOL instead of you:
AOL will on Monday launch a late-night video block featuring highlights from podcasts by director Kevin Smith and comedians Adam Carolla and Kevin Pollak. “The idea is to take these very popular podcasts with their very rabid audiences and find a platform-appropriate way to create a programming block,” said Amber Lawson, AOL’s head of programming. “We want to tap into their audiences and create video content that is consumable in one- to five-minute chunks.” …AOL will likely add more elements to the comedy block in the future and is searching for women and minorities who fit the concept.
Carolla’s show gets about a million downloads a week, while Pollak’s show got more than a million views in December.
So what AOL is doing is aggregating highlights from already successful podcast shows and building a programming lineup from them. They are, in other words, syndicating the content of established podcast stars and creating a new “network” from that content that will expand to fill more space as they discover and do deals with it.
It’s a boon to the talent. It’s new content for AOL. And it’s another illustration of the importance of talent in a space that is primarily audio-based (Pollak’s show is video, but stands up quite well as audio-only). And even if it isn’t audio-based, it doesn’t matter. After all (as I have argued) if radio’s big advantage is our ability to reach out and grab audiences, why shouldn’t we grab them for pictures as well as sounds?
This kind of aggregation is something I and others have been advising for years. After all, AOL is going to monetize around this content, just as you could.
We bemoan the absence of high quality content, then we don’t recognize it when it’s staring us in the face or whispering into our ear.
Who would have guessed that one of the most forward-looking broadcasters in the business would be…AOL.
Broadcasters need to wake up and recognize that content comes in all shapes and sizes, yet the kind of content that attracts tons of eyes and ears remains scarce – especially when there’s a personality behind the mic and in front of the camera.
It is not simply about advancing the agenda of your brands, it’s about creating new brands that leverage your inherent strengths of reach and distribution.
One final point: The idea of creating “bite-size chunks” of podcast content is another item I’ve been talking about with clients for some time. That despite the notion that most broadcasters prefer to take a full three-hour show on FM or AM and drop it into an online archive as if there’s no difference between the two media or how people want to consume content across these media.
I never thought I’d say this, but learn from AOL.