How many top podcasts use SSL feeds?
In early 2016, Apple added support for SSL-secured podcast feeds.1
I wanted to get a sense of how many shows are taking advantage of this, so I grabbed a list of the top 200 podcasts in iTunes (US), along with their feed URLs.
A few observations:
- Only 11 of the top 200 shows (5.5%) use HTTPS for their podcast XML. The remaining 189 feeds use plain old HTTP.
- Libsyn seems to offer HTTPS versions of all its podcast feeds, but none of the 34 Libsyn-hosted podcast feeds on the iTunes US Top 200 use the SSL-secured version.
- Art19 also seems to offer HTTPS versions of its podcast feeds, but only a few (Sword and Scale and The Vanished Podcast) in the Top 200 use them.
- All Audioboom-hosted feeds listed in the US iTunes Top 200 (Undisclosed, Savage Nation with Michael Savage, The Night Time Podcast, Actual Innocence, SpyCast) use HTTPS.
Of course, many of the shows on the iTunes Top 200 predate Apple’s support for SSL-secured podcast feeds.
It’ll be interesting to see if more high-ranking shows make the switch to secure feeds in the coming months.
If your podcast host supports HTTPS feeds, you can (and probably should) update your feed URL using Apple’s Podcasts Connect and the itunes:new-feed-url feed element.
Though some people seem miffed that Apple’s list of approved certificate providers doesn’t include Let’s Encrypt. ↩
iTunes Smart App Banners work for podcasts, too
Starting with iOS 6, Apple introduced Smart App Banners. If you’re an iPhone person, you’ve probably seen these things at the top of mobile websites, prompting you to download a corresponding app. They link right to the iTunes app store.
I recently learned that iTunes Smart App Banners aren’t just for apps. They work for podcasts listed in the iTunes directory, and they deep link directly to the built-in Podcast app:
How? Just drop this into your
<meta name="apple-itunes-app" content="app-id=XXXXXXXXX">
XXXXXXXXXis your iTunes podcast ID.
The long tail of audio
I spent this past weekend at the Third Coast public radio conference in Chicago. In many of the sessions, and hallway conversations, and up-way-too-late-at-a-public-radio-conference-mostly-drunk rants, you could feel a sense of renewed excitement around podcasting, and the wave of independence and entrepreneurship we’re seeing in this space.
Then, this morning in my inbox, via Seth’s blog, a prediction about terrestrial radio:
Just as newspapers fell off a cliff, radio is about to follow. It’s going to happen faster than anyone expects. And of course, it will be replaced by a new thing, a long tail of audio that’s similar (but completely different) from what we were looking for from radio all along.
Podcast networks like Radiotopia, Infinite Guest, Maximum Fun, Earwolf, etc. seem well-positioned for what’s next. Their lineups are full of subject and personality-driven shows. Individually, these shows might not draw broadcast numbers, but in the aggregate, they’re significant. These podcast networks feature shows that would never find a home over-the-air. Shows that are too niche, or too weird, or don’t fit a broadcast clock.
Some traditional broadcasters, like WNYC with its growing slate of nichier, podcast-only programs, give me hope that a few dinosaurs might give birth to mammals.
So then, what’s CBC Radio’s podcasting strategy? I can’t pretend to know, but judging from the current lineup of podcasts, it’s all about mirroring the existing over-the-air broadcast lineup.
The best podcasts out there embrace the unique properties of the medium. They’re intimate, and personal. They’re portable. They’re not constrained to broadcast lengths. They take advantage of the fact that listeners start from the beginning, every time.
Simply duplicating broadcast programming in podcast form isn’t going to cut it in Seth’s “long tail of audio.”
Way back in 2008, Mark Ramsey talked about “starts” — small public radio experiments that are all about trying new ideas.
Podcasts are perfect for starts.
Let’s start something.
I’m going on tour
CBC Radio has comissioned 10 episodes of Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids, based on the tiny little reading series I started back in 2007.
It’s really difficult to explain how excited I am about this.
An argument for a digital-first CBC
Paul Adams, writing about the future of the CBC for iPolitics:
Right now, CBC treats its website as if it were an industrial by-product of the broadcast networks, like a slaughterhouse that sells off the bones for fertilizer and the hooves for glue. It’s an afterthought.
From where I sit, this feels accurate.