In Febuary and March 2021 Player FM (the Android podcatcher) failed to perform the functions it had performed over the preceding years that I had been using it. I thought Google Podcasts would work, but Google is blocked in Britain from serving BBC podcasts. An issue of broadcast rights in British law. Google scrapes content and uses it to fill Google apps. Google struggles with the EU and national governments. Google Podcasts does not carry some of the content I listed to.
Pocket Casts appeared to be working again; it regained its reputation for stablility and functionality with 11 stable upgrades to the buggy 2019 Pocket Casts version 7 that had led me to drop it in 2019. (Shifty Jelly had shut down its remaining app Pocket Weather in 2018). Pocket Media, the NPR consortium that owns Pocket Casts, is selling the app. But I started using it again and found it to function.
Podcasting is attracting large investors who want listeners and revenue. See:
- the 2015 article in the Observer, Stockholm Startup Acast Solves Podcasters’ Advertising Problem;
- the 2016 NY Times article Podcasts Surge, but Producers Fear Apple Isn’t Listening;
- the Guardian piece why indie podcasts are in peril.
Publishers view subscribers as a cash flow, and change the apps and the terms of service.
Podcasts, like radio and television, rely on engaging or relatable narrators to interpret scripts. I have enjoyed Stephen Fry’s work, some of which he wrote. He produced his work through his own firm, SamFry. In 2018, he released Great Leap Years, which is still available to stream or download on Acast and other podcatchers, sometimes as part of his other series 7 Deadly Sins (both were produced for television). The more recent series that he narratives, Victorian Secrets and Edwardian Secrets, are only available on Audible. He does not describe himself as a writer of Victorian Secrets and Edwardian Secrets on his own website. Amazon, the owner of Audible, bundles content – this content is only available to users who subscribe.
The VC financed entity Maple Media bought the Player FM IP in May 2020. Initial coverage treated this a change that might be beneficial for someone. TechCrunch May 12, 2020. The Android Police put Maple Media on a sort of watch list October 29, 2020. Maple Media broke Player FM for some users for some advantage.