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Average Podcast Length December 20, 2006

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Questions, Podcasting.
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What is the average length of a podcast?

Usually people ask this question when what they really mean to ask is: “How long should I make my podcast?”

Just for reference, a typical podcast is 40 minutes long (+ or – 5 minutes). Many podcasts are hour long or half hour long ‘shows’ that are done, but podcast lengths range anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours. Instead of copying, following, doing what everyone else does, researching and trying to model popular podcasts… my advice is to come up with a number based on a few criteria. Here are four factors that can figure in to how long you make your podcast:

First, decide on who your audience is. You can probably come up with a range of minutes if you think about who will be watching or listening to your podcast. A travelling business woman, a stay at home dad, a high school student, etc. How long is that person going to tolerate listening to your podcast? We once specifically targeted male management consultant personnel in a podcast who we know ‘read’ books by skimming the table of contents page, flipping through and reading headings, and stopping to read the last paragraph of each chapter if we’re lucky. This person wants a 3 to 10 minute podcast.

Second, think about how and where they will be listening. How long is his or her break? Is the computer at work or home? Does he or she have a portable media player and can find time during the drive, flight, or ride? Keeping my management consultant example, he has a portable media device, but could also listen on his laptop. Travelling a lot, he syncs his laptop in the airport or when docking at a hotel, and loads up his player for the next long flight. If a topic looks interesting while in the hotel, he might listen to it on his computer. Having said all that, a 10 to 15 minute podcast may be more tolerable since nights at hotels are boring and plane rides are usually longer than 15 minutes.

Third, create the high level message of your podcast. What point are you trying to get across? What is it saying? Is it something that is a get to the point, push out information, just the facts topic… or is it more conversational, theoretical, and thoughtful. If you’ve got a topic that is a ‘just the facts’ and discuss it for a long time, the disconnect is noticeable. Flip that around, and if you have a theoretical topic where you just state what it is and not the background, application, and feeling around it… it’s hard to connect with the listener. In our example, management consultant factoids given out with their source and a tad bit of how to apply this at your clients combines the two a little and would probably take at least 8 minute to convey, and at the most 20 minutes.

Fourth, develop the content for your podcast. Now is the time to actually develop the content. Whether you’re writing a script or talking points, record yourself delivering your content and see how long it actually takes. You may be surprised. I set out to do an under 10 minute podcast once, and talked for 22 minutes. The content that I wanted to include just wouldn’t have come out in under 10 minutes. (I eventually made the decision to cut it into two 11 minute podcasts, but that’s something you think about after.) Hopefully there is not a huge discrepancy between the numbers you received in the first three exercises of this post, and you receive a number you can deal with. In our management consultant case, two factoids took 19 minutes (with some fluff) to record.

Fifth, decide on your final number. In most cases, a strait average won’t work because you may think on point is more important than the other (like content being king, or “even if I think the content dictates I make this 2 hours, no one will listen). Averaging my example: 3 to 10 minutes, 10 to 15 minutes, 8 to 20 minutes, and 22 minutes come out to somewhere around 12 minutes… and 12 minutes was the decision made. We still kept two factoids, but cleared out some of the fluff and actually did away with any type of musical or anecdotal intro (though we had music playing in the background the entire time… it makes people feel like it’s not as long as it is… but that’s content for another post).

Comments»

1. Podcast Length: Audio vs. Video « Jeffrey Daniel Frey’s Blog - January 2, 2007

[…] Conclusion? I don’t really have one, but as with the many other things that I talk about here, the science and the theory of podcasting really is what I’m talking about here. If I had to say one thing to guide you on podcast length, it would be to let your content dictate length. See also this other post on podcast length. […]

2. Speeding up podcasts: Listen to more, faster - Part 1: tunequest: notes on music and itunes tips - January 30, 2007

[…] of the time burden that a podcast can create, but even those who try to produce short episodes tend to drastically underestimate the amount of time needed to convey all the info they […]

3. kabababrubarta - March 26, 2007

Cool Site! kabababrubarta

4. Gnoletcom - April 13, 2007

Please join for discussions on topics about The Virtual Reality.
Technology development of The Virtual Reality and its perspectives.
Gnolet.com

5. Podcasting Primer Part Four: Creating a Script | Audio at Home - November 13, 2007

[…] Notice I have placed time estimates after each section. When you first start podcasting, it will be more difficult to know how long each segment will take. However, this is a skill you will improve the longer you ‘cast. A half an hour might not seem very long, but when it is just you, the mic and some ideas, you’ll find that it is longer than you think. Jeffrey Daniel Frey has an excellent post on his blog listing five ways to determine podcast length. […]

6. Mike - January 18, 2008

It’s a subjective matter, for sure. My feeling on podcast length: No matter how “great” a podcast may be, how “great” is it if few people make it all the way to the end? Plus, many people appreciate “predictability” (consistency). Read more here:

http://www.thetigerbeat.com/blog/?p=360

7. Paul - July 17, 2009

Useful article. FWIW, your use of the word “factoid” might not be in line with its actual definition.

8. Listen to this… « Erik Duval’s Weblog - September 8, 2009

[…] is an appropriate length for a podcast? I’m not the first one to ask the question (really, seriously), but it does seem that opinions vary wildly. I’ve heard claims that most people listen to […]

9. Bah-Bam! My Musings - May 24, 2012

I found this to be extremely helpful, especially since I am just starting out in the podcasting world.


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