The YouTube Head Scratcher Explained


When we posted the graph (see previous story,) about YouTube being the go-to destination for podcast consumption, we immediately reached out to Randy Bennett from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. The College and Futuri Media conducted the study. Here’s what Bennett had to say…

PBJ: Can you please help us understand how you came to the conclusion that YouTube was #1, Spotify #2 and Apple #3? There’s going to be a ton of doubt from the podcasting gurus. That just does not compute with their stats and studies.
Randy Bennett:
One of the findings from this survey is indeed the definition of “podcast.” The survey allowed respondents to self-identify as podcast listeners. We did not put a definition of traditional podcasts vs. other types of on-demand audio in front of them. So the results return a finding in and of itself – what consumers consider “podcasts” has evolved from what the industry thinks of “podcasts”, e.g. audio, typically in a series, that you subscribe to.

The industry definition of podcast appears to be different from consumer perceptions and definitions, and that was one thing that came across in the study. This is likely why findings might differ from those studies that defined “podcast” to respondents. What consumers consider to be podcasts today seems to have evolved to be something more than the traditional format and consumption patterns.

And research shows that YouTube is a leading social media platform and content discovery platform for millennials.  They prefer to use the platform for all kinds of content. So using YouTube as a platform to find and engage with what consumers consider to be podcasts is valid.

The study was conducted by Dr. Sylvia Chan-Olmstead from the University of Florida, a highly respected and awarded media researcher who has consulted for Google, Nielsen, and more. There’s more on her background here. You can also find and more information on the study sample of 2,000 in the slide deck.

It’s important for content creators to know the distinction so that they can maximize their opportunities with different types of content, but it seems that the distinction doesn’t matter to consumers.”


  1. A YouTube video isn’t a podcast. It’s a video that lives on YouTube. A podcast on YouTube isn’t a podcast, it’s an audio recording on YouTube. What makes a podcast a “podcast” isn’t the audio; by itself it is merely an audio file. What makes it a “podcast” is the distribution method. A podcast is an audio file enclosed in an RSS feed for disrtibution. If that same podcast is broadcast over the radio, it is no longer a podcast, it is a radio program. A podcast isn’t the audio itself, it is essentially the method by which the audio is distributed and heard. This is why it is important to educate the consumers about the distinction, rather than “listen to the consumers”. Otherwise there would be total confusion, especially when it comes to silly surveys like this one.

  2. Riddle me this… so Tom Bilyeu’s podcast Impact Theory is on iTunes therefore making it a podcast. That content also lives on YouTube in a video format. Does that same content change its name, is it no longer a podcast because there is a video? How does that work for all you purists?

    More importantly, the industry will do much better if you listen to the consumers. Who cares how they define it, what are they subscribing to? What is the benefit to so tightly defining a genre when the average listener doesn’t understand your lingo?

  3. IMHO that is a pretty lame explanation. A real study would have defined the term “podcast” to the respondent before asking the questions. At least, in my past experience as a survey respondent, that was how it used to be done. Considering that a large segment of the public is still somewhat confused as to what a podcast is, it stands to reason that anyone performing such a study would preface their questions with a clear definition of the term, if the results are to be taken seriously. The omission of such a step automatically skews the results and raises the suspicion of an agenda. My question to them would be, what was the real purpose of theis “study”?

  4. Quite frankly having been in the space for 15 years this is the most insulting study results I think I’ve ever seen they clearly have no clue what they’re talking about. They also don’t understand what a podcast is and I warping the definition to fix a serious flaw in their study which is a joke .

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