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November 7, 2017   •   Marquis Wimberly

Top 4 Factors to Consider in Your Podcast & Audio Delivery Strategy


The mobile revolution is fueling demand for over-the-top (OTT) content, which requires you to consider 4 key factors in your podcast and audio delivery strategy. Though much of hype surrounds video, and music to a lesser extent, not to be overlooked is a rapidly growing segment of podcast listeners. Podcast listening has grown nearly 10% in the last four years. In 2016, podcasts reached an estimated 98 million listeners or 36% of people in the US ages 12 and up according to Edison Research and Triton Digital.

Factor to Consider in Podcast and Audio Delivery Strategy

Podcasts are a unique breed in the world of OTT content delivery, so delivering them quickly, reliably and efficiently requires the right expertise and technology. New podcasts often start with a traditional web hosting provider, however they aren’t built to handle the high volume of download and streaming requests of large audio files with intermittent spikes. StackPath delivers content for some of the largest podcast producers in the world, including Chicago Public Radio (This American Life, Serial and S-Town podcasts), Libsyn, and Simplecast (popular podcasting services). Listeners of these popular podcasts providers expect quick downloads and streaming to start instantly without lag or timeouts. When content demand spikes, StackPath’s CDN infrastructure scales to support massive audiences, ensuring quality delivery and providing a number of key features that make our delivery network ideal for delivering audio content. To improve the quality of your podcast and audio delivery, we’ve determined four key factors for you to consider: scalability, network presence, analytics and efficiency.

Not all CDNs are created equal. We found this out the hard way. After researching multiple global providers, we ultimately ended up choosing StackPath, as their features and capabilities are downright amazing. They’ve worked wonders for Simplecast.
- Stephen Hallgren, Simplecast Partner & CTO

1. Scalability

When is your audience listening?

Current data suggests that the vast majority of podcast listeners (59%) listen to podcasts immediately after they’re published. Fewer (23%) download and listen to podcasts later. The smallest segment (15%), who subscribe to podcasts, receive automatic downloads of their podcasts and listen later. That can cause some level of unpredictability concerning your capacity needs, but typically it is within the first few days after publishing an episode that streaming and download requests flood the server where your content is stored. Without the proper tools in place, listeners experience poor streaming quality, slow downloads, timeouts and sometimes aren’t able to access your content at all. StackPath's CDN solution gives you the flexibility to meet fluctuating demand and scale with minimal ramp-time.

2. Network Presence & Reach

How and where is your audience listening?

Mobile is a driving force in demand and consumer behavior. The chart above shows that since 2014, mobile devices has over taken desktops as the primary device for podcast listening, accounting for over two-thirds of the devices used to listen to podcasts in 2016. The convenience of mobile devices allows podcast consumers to listen anywhere, even in transit. While the vast majority (53%) listen at home, many also listen in the car (21%), at work (14%), and on public transportation (4%). Mobile is an important consideration in your strategy because it determines what kind of networks your content will need to route through to get to the consumers’ devices, wherever they are. You’ll need to account for the specific challenges of delivering to users on cellular networks. As your users’ locations change, they’ll need the ability to access the content from the origin closest to them. Cutting the distance between your audience and your content is the key to providing a high quality experience.

3. Analytics

What is your audience’s experience?

As you develop your content delivery strategy, it is important to understand how your content is performing. Standard engagement metrics for podcasts like daily, monthly and lifetime streams/downloads, subscribers, reviews, etc. can be determined a number of ways, but it’s also important to understand how well your content is being delivered. One way to gain insight into your podcast delivery performance is through request receipts. Request receipts are customizable and can provide specific information such as the result of a download request, start time, client IP address, total bytes downloaded, transfer duration and more. Raw access logs provide more granular detail about the end-user request for content. Logs provide custom reporting, giving you information such as the user agent, requestor IP address, status code, and path to content delivered. One of most important pieces of data that StackPath provides by default in the raw logs is the byte-range request data. This data can easily be customized to meet business needs and refine delivery strategy.

4. Efficiency

What’s the best way to reach your audience?

A robust infrastructure can give you scale and reach, but it’s only one part of the delivery process. You need to make sure your content is managed and distributed effectively across your infrastructure. One important efficiency is caching configurations. Intelligent caching configurations help reduce data movement on your network and the load on your origin server. This will not only ensure your content reaches your audiences effectively, but also reduce your costs. Another way to gain more efficiency is through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) to easily integrate an optimized podcast delivery strategy into your existing workflow. And when it’s time to update or get rid of old content, StackPath offers real-time, instant purge utility that can be accessed via APIs and can help improve the request efficiency and load to origin.

StackPath’s CDN is designed to help platforms and publishers scale and reach audiences reliably and efficiently. StackPath also provides detailed analytics so you know exactly how your content is preforming. If you already have a popular podcast and need to manage its growth, or if you operate a podcasting platform and want to improve performance for your listeners, there are a number of ways we can help you to fine-tune your infrastructure and delivery strategy.

In addition to the CDN being instrumental in handling high traffic demand and distributed audiences, StackPath also delivers a number of real-time analytics that podcast producers value. Learn how StackPath CDN Supports Record-Breaking Podcast, “S-Town,” from the creators of "This American Life" and "Serial." Read the full story.

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