Streaming podcasts, minus downloads?
March 28, 2014 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Asking for my company: Is there a mobile podcasting service which allows one to disable downloads?

I'm the senior producer of a public radio show whose content is used in several contexts:
- a weekly radio show (formatted to the NPR clock and with FCC-regulated censorship);
- a traditional CD/MP3 download containing only the meat of the show, minus all the radio formatting and station breaks and such;
- a series of apps for educational use.

My challenge is that our show is losing station carriage because it is very, very long (two hours) and also arts-focused. Nowadays, public radio is all about news and first-person storytelling in short bites, and we're losing a decades-long battle for coverage. I've been tasked with finding a new way to get the show out that doesn't involve terrestrial broadcasts ... which, in most cases, means a podcast. Obvious, yes?

Unfortunately, because we also monetize the same content through a separate Audio Sales division, I have been forbidden from making the radio show available as a free podcast. We have a popular Soundcloud stream, but doing a downloadable version of the same thing is considered verboten. (They don't care if people find ways around the restriction like using file downloaders, because it has to do with our intent, not what people may do independently to jailbreak the system.)

I've been trying to find a middle ground between the podcast and the stream that would allow folks to listen to our extensive back-catalogue of broadcasts on-the-go. The best-case scenario here would be a branded app that would include the last 50-100 episodes of our radio show, available on-demand, but not downloadable.

I contacted libsyn, but unfortunately their (otherwise excellent) podcasting and app service will not allow us to completely disable downloads. I'm not sure who the other players in this area are, short of paying thousands of dollars to have someone design such an app from scratch. Any thoughts?
posted by mykescipark to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
It's not a direct answer to your question, but you may want to talk to Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann of the Answer Me This! podcast. They have a freely downloadable podcast, but they monetize their back catalog.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:49 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think a lot of places do podcasts where they expire old episodes so that you can't download the back ones, but if you want people to still be able to stream the back ones but not download anything... well, it's not really what I'd think of as a podcast, as someone who listens to tons of podcasts. The way podcasts work is they have an RSS feed that tells your podcatcher app what to download. Before I read inside, Soundcloud was the first thing I thought of--can you not host your back catalog there? Otherwise, the reason you're not going to see much is that basically this isn't how podcasts work, so this is kind of like asking "how can we have a podcast without having a podcast". If the audio sales don't actually result in enough of an income stream to justify a couple grand for an app, though, I think the question you should probably be asking is "how do we best monetize this" because the current plan is probably not the answer.
posted by Sequence at 10:00 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm confused about how Soundcloud does not meet your needs. You can disable downloads on Soundcloud, and I've personally found playing audio on the go over Soundcloud mobile to be convenient and painless.
posted by kaspen at 10:35 AM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I also don't see what soundcloud is missing.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 11:38 AM on March 28, 2014

I, too, would recommend SoundCloud. You can easily disable downloads for all uploads, and the growing public radio presence there makes it a logical place to be. They have apps for all platforms and web widgets that make it easy to embed the audio on your own site.

We use SoundCloud for our public radio show, but we have a different funding model. We distribute our content at no cost to everyone, including public radio stations, and then fundraise among those listeners. It's working and, according to what we've learned about selling back catalog, brings in about ten times as much income as we would with the back-catalog model.

If you'd like to chat more, send me a message via MeMail.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:36 PM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

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