Podcasting vs. Broadcasting – Which Format is Right For You?

If you’ve been thinking about starting a podcast or talk show, chances are you’ve wondered about the pros and cons of live streaming your episodes or, alternatively, following the traditional podcasting format (i.e. releasing pre-recorded edited episodes).

In this article, we’ll compare the two formats and help you decide which format you should start with.

podcast vs broadcast

Should You Broadcast?

A number of platforms, such as BlogTalkRadio, Spreaker, Live365, and Croice have made it possible to broadcast you show to the world. In many cases, if you record your show or podcast into your laptop or computer, adding a direct channel for your listeners to hear you live isn’t much of a hassle.

There are several benefits to following this approach, including the chance to connect with your listeners and increase the value of your show to those who download the episodes later by giving them the opportunity to hear the audience’s questions and your answers. Another less obvious reason to broadcast live is the added pressure and accountability that it brings, helping you learn and improve much faster.

There are several tools that make it possible for you to be a broadcaster and a podcaster at the same time. At first, it’s recommended that you get yourself a mixer, a dynamic mic, XLR cable, and a pop filter. And even without a mixer you can add sounds and record your voice using tools like Audio Hijack Pro or WireTap Studio for the OS X and Total Recorder for Windows. Online platforms like BlogTalkRadio also have the option of uploading, editing, and replacing episodes.

So what are some potential downsides of live streaming your content? Sound quality might be an issue, especially if you use some of the light tier plans from services like Blogtalkradio (though investing in the right equipment can rid you this problem). Another point to consider is the risk of sounding too spontaneous and disorganized, especially in the early stages of your broadcasting endeavor. Also, while having a chatroom or taking listener calls might seem like a boon, these precise features might be distracting both for you and your listeners. Finally, it may initially cost you a lot more to broadcast live – you’ll have to pay for various services, but will most likely have few or no revenue streams.

Should You Podcast?

As we’ve already hinted at in this piece, the distribution method is one of the key differences between the podcasting and broadcasting. To address any confusion that may remain, a podcast usually refers to “self-contained” audio file(s) distributed through an RSS feed on the internet. There are several advantages to starting out with this format:

-greater flexibility (in terms of episode length, release frequency, and distribution strategy)
-the chance to follow a strict outline/script for the episodes
-a more progressive and “manageable” learning curve
-greater convenience for your listeners who might value the “portability” of the episodes.

The obvious downside is a small number of ways to spark conversations and discussions with your listeners. Also, the various live streaming services we mentioned earlier provide a distribution channel – a way to get your show in front of potential listeners who otherwise wouldn’t have discovered your show.

Does it Even Matter What Format You Go With?

In the end, the decision of which format to start off with might not be as critical as may seem. It won’t make or break your show or podcast. Here’s why that might be the case.

Studies have shown that individuals are embracing both formats, giving preference to each at a different time of the day. Another force that’s blurring the distinction between broadcasts and podcasts is the appearance of services like Stitcher and TuneIn. The latter has been dubbed “the Pandora of talk” due to its unique features that transform the consumption of recorded shows and podcasts into an “on-demand” and “always on” personalized experience.


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