The first commercial podcasts were hit and miss, as you might expect. Some radio and TV companies thought that repackaging only snippets of their shows would suffice. Some morning radio talk shows had their ads stripped out and released in podcast form. NPR (National Public Radio) offered some of the earliest mainstream media podcasts. These shows became instant hits on iTunes, with a few shows in the top 20.
Still, the podcasts that really made a splash were the ones that added to the existing medium, not simply repackaged it. We've mentioned SciFi Channel's Battlestar Galactica before, but it bears repeating. When Ron Moore came out with the companion commentary to BSG, the fans of the show were entranced. This was a brilliant move on the SciFi Channel's part because not only was it offering something special to the fans, but it also virtually guaranteed that the audience would watch the episode twice, once for the dialogue and once for the commentary (see Figure 19.2). That's two chances the advertisers had to reach the viewers.
Figure 19.2. Battlestar Galactica remains one of the best TV-related podcasts originating from the source.
Re-releasing radio shows is becoming popular, as shown by NPR and some local stations, but because radio is already audio, they can offer bonus material that the listener can only get from the podcast. Both radio and TV shows can release podcasts of full interviews, for example, as they would have had to cut the interviews for time to fit on their time slots. Anything that can't fit into the normal time slot, actually, can be put on a podcast. An editorial from the station manager, late sports scores, and anything else that you want to squeeze in.
For movies or TV shows, fans are always hungry for behind-the-scenes material, bloopers, or even celebrity gossip. Interviews with stars, technical information from the crew, and even a commentary from the director are useful. Extra material is cut all the time from shows, DVDs, and movies because of time or space requirements, but podcasting holds none of these limitations. Anything that can't fit anywhere else can be placed in a podcast.
In the future, networks may well attempt to provide a new pilot through video podcasts to gauge interest. Movie studios could release scenes before a movie comes out. They could even release nonrated versions of showsthe versions the censors saw before editing. If you are a movie studio, why not video podcast the first 5 minutes of every movie as it is released? You can get people hooked on a movie, thus driving them to the theater to see the rest of it.
The key thing to remember is the majority of the shackles placed on TV, radio, and movies are removed when you move to the podcasting medium. No time limits, no censors, no FCC, no space limitations. There are only two questions you need to ask: