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Adam Carolla's Podcast: 1M Downloads... Radio, XM Officially Dead?

Last week, Adam Carolla transitioned from national radio talk show host. His contract with CBS prevents him from returning to radio (supposedly through 2009) - and in exchange, he is paid handsomely in the meantime. So Adam Carolla decided started a podcast - launching it last week. It had over 1,000,000 downloads... a staggering number:

Adam Carolla Podcast

I’m overwhelmed by your response to the podcast. In less than 24 hours, the first podcast was downloaded over a quarter of a million times, which is awesome.

This means that we’ll be able move along faster in terms of getting this project up into a new gear, and getting a little more production, more guests, and everything you guys deserve. I’m grateful to have such fantastic fans, and honored at this response.

I’ve been very busy working on this pilot with CBS, and getting all the parts in place for that, which has taken a lot of time and energy, but we’re still focused on putting a great podcast out.

Again, I’d like to thank everyone, and let everyone know that we’ll all get our shit together very soon, and bring this to a new level.

Keep up the good work.

-Adam Carolla

Consider that Corolla achieved one million downloads with: - no real promotion or advertising campaign (and no brand behind it) - a basic website based on - no mobile-based website like ESPN's Podcenter (which is how I consume ESPN podcasts on-the-go) - just entered iTunes (important for access, subscription)

Adam Carolla is not alone in his success. ESPN's Bill Simmons (the Sports Guy) had over 550,000 podcast downloads last week.

These numbers are enormous. And for Adam Carolla to find such success so quickly and without a big brand or producer - talent should really ask themselves, why not follow Carolla's lead? Consider that Carolla used to start his show at the crack of dawn, talk for several hours, abide by FCC regulation... and it cost $20,000,000 annually to run. Now his podcasts are 30-60 minutes, free of censorship and available in a new format that is killing traditional radio and has rendered satellite radio useless - why subscribe to XM and Sirius when you can get Adam Carolla, Bill Simmons, The Wall Street Journal, etc portably and on-demand?

And if Carolla and others can find success in podcasting - then the supply of content will enable the medium to grow (to me, this really was the mitigating factor). But with 1,000,000 downloads and a lean staff, Carolla will certainly be able to find financial success.... which is, in turn, great for consumers.

Premium Content and Advertising... Content is King

I subscribe to ESPN's Insider service... and I've written many times about why.

Today, while listening to my favorite radio show (The Thundering Herd), I noticed that ESPN started pushing ads directly into the programs. I pay $40 a year for Insider 'privileges' which, among other things, gives me access to on-demand ESPN radio shows that were commercial free.

But today, the Thundering Herd (Colin Cowherd's radio program that I listen to throughout the day) had one or two ads running between segments... this was new and, frankly, this pissed me off. But as I got angry and questioned why / how ESPN could ask me for a premium subscription AND introduce advertising on top of that - I realized that it all comes down to content. Sure: I might be upset, but I won't cancel my Insider subscription because the content is simply too good. I can still access the programming on-demand (in addition to other features) - and I value the content enough that - while I might willing to complain about advertising - I am not willing to cancel my subscription.

In summary:

At the end of the day, if the content is good enough and unique enough, a business model exists.

15 Websites / Services I'd Actually Pay For

One measure of a service’s utility and stickiness is its ability to charge for usage. Consequently, I regularly find myself asking, “Is this important enough to me that I’d pay for it?”

Here are some of the services / sites where that answer is yes… And what I’d be willing to pay: Gmail: I’d pay to keep my Gmail account more because the switching cost is high than because of the functionality. That switching cost is painful enough that I’d spend $75 to prevent it. I will likely end up paying for increased storage too.

Google Maps: Love Google Maps for my Blackberry. Telenav is $9.99 / mo and offers greater functionality – I’d likely pay $10 to download Google Maps or some nominal monthly fee. If Google Maps added navigational directions, I would pay $10 / month. The benefit of blogging with WP is so significant (SEO, functionality, flexibility) that it’s well worth paying for. I’d probably pay a $200 for an installation… which makes me realize how much I rely on the product.

Google Analytics: If Google analytics weren’t free, I would unhappily pay a monthly fee to install it ($10) because, despite my disdain for the interface and lack of real-time metrics, it really is a necessity.

Google Analytics w/ Real Time Data: I would certainly pay extra for real-time Google Analytics.

Slimstat: Slimstat is a free Wordpress plugin that delivers real-time analytics. I would pay $40 to install it.

Slimstat “Premium”: … And I’d pay a lot more if Slimstat offered a model with unlimited data capturing / storage (the basic one shows the last ‘n’ records). I would pay $100 / domain.

Mint Analytics: I gladly paid $40 to install Mint on my domains. Great data and great interface.

Craigslist: I would pay for premium listings on Craigslist (if they introduced some sort of featured ads format) and I’ve paid the jobs listing fees before (many times).

Amazon Prime: I spend enough on Amazon that they gave me Amazon Prime for free when it first launched. Considering that I buy my groceries, toiletries, electronics, dog food, etc on it – I’d pay for Prime if Amazon forced me to.

iStockPhoto Premium: I love iStockPhoto – but it’s a pain to purchase credits. I’d pay for a premium account that enables power-usage. MLB is the only major sport that has truly adopted the web and their radio and video streaming is fantastic. I already pay for the service (estimates: $14.99 for radio broadcast of all games,$99-$179 for video)

Podcasts / On-demand Radio: There are certain podcasts and radio shows that I would pay to be able to download in entirety. For instance, I love The Thundering Herd on ESPN Radio but it streams too early on the west coast for me to catch it – and the Podcast only captures 30 minutes of the broadcast. I would pay $5-$10 a month to listen to it on-demand, in its entirety (price depends on whether or not ads are in the broadcast). The same can be said for Tony Bruno and JT the Brick.

eLance: I love eLance. Use it all the time. They choose to charge the service provider – but if they reversed it, I would pay on a per-listing basis. The price depends on the project, but a nominal amount ($5?).

ESPN360: It’s the only way that I can catch Duke games without leaving work at 3pm pst... I’d pay either per game or per month ($5-10) for the service. I’d pay a whole lot more if they could include MLB, NFL and NBA (would start to challenge my Comcast bill).

ESPN Knows Online – ESPN360 and ESPN Podcasts

I think ESPN and their online efforts go overlooked - mostly because they are so dominant on television and radio. But I have been *very* impressed with their online efforts recently:

Podcasts: The have the best podcasts on iTunes – by quantity and quality. ESPN podcasts are updated daily. Production quality is high. In my queue:

- Pardon the Interruption with Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon - Around the Horn video - The Thundering Herd with Colin Cowherd - The Best of Mike and Mike - ESPN Fantasy Focus - The BS Report with Bill Simmons - Stephen A Smith Show

Notice anything about this list? Most of the content is available on traditional format (television and radio) – yet ESPN is glad to give it away for free online (with ad support and sponsorship). Seems simple - but few other major brands are doing this. Love it. If you haven’t used – try it out. Streaming, real-time games for all ESPN network games. It’s phenomenal and, on some late work nights, it’s allowed me to watch Duke games. The quality is great and, like their podcasts, it’s groundbreaking in that no other networks stream all of their on-air content…. Live!