BBC drops Podcast’s for ‘Free Download’

I was surprised to learn whilst listening to my ‘Best of Moyles’ podcast today (yes I do listen to his show and I do find him funny!) that the podcast itself would be coming to an end from July 1st. Luckily that doesn’t mean that the actual feature will be coming to an end, I can still download and listen later on my iPhone, but the name will be changing… to ‘Free Download’.

What? I almost crashed my car trying to work out the thinking behind that one. Chris Moyles explained it as ‘[the BBC think] You don’t know what a podcast is, therefore the BBC are changing the name of the podcast’.

Is this really the thinking behind the change? I hardly think ‘Free Download’ explains what the product is any better. A free download could be many things, whereas a podcast is a show, normally audio, that is downloadable to your MP3 player to be listened to when you want. Perhaps the BBC are worried that the term podcast is a bit vague and confusing. Maybe it’s too new a phrase, after all we’ve only been using it since 2005… (and for that matter the BBC have for most of that time too).

But I don’t think this decision boils down to the fact that Podcast could be seen as favouring Apple’s iPod series of MP3 players. And it’s true that we get the name podcast from the a combination of iPod and broadcasting – in a way it has always been a subtle advert for Apple.

But I think we’re beyond that now, people see podcasts as exactly what they are, they don’t see it as favouring any one player (we all know they play on any or even stream online). Heck, podcast has even been accepted into the Oxford dictionary, it’s not just tech talk, it’s an actual term! And if the BBc were trying to avoid links with Apple, perhaps they shouldn’t have named their on demand service iPlayer!

I see absolutely no benefit in renaming the BBC podcast, out of all broadcasters in the UK, the Beeb have the most and we all know what they are. Although I don’t expect it to make much difference, the only thing the ‘Free Download’ name can bring is more confusion rather than less.

It’s a strange and bizarre decision, but then that seems to be very much the BBC’s thing at the moment – I’ll bring you my views and memories of BBC Television Centre tomorrow…

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8 Responses to BBC drops Podcast’s for ‘Free Download’

  1. Chris, I would be fascinated to get a Beeb response to this decision.

    My immediate thought was that the Beeb imagined Apple was getting bags of free publicity out of it, since noone else gets a sniff of advertising out of them.

    Then I wondered whether there was some sinister European edict in place as it happened the same time as France banned Twitter and Facebook stories from its news channels.

    What do you think?

  2. Karin Høgh says:

    This is a very strange day for me. On this day I learned that the word podcasting en Denmark will be accepted in the dictionary – next print edition – and BBC takes this decision.

    It is definitely a strange world.

    • Ben says:

      It is a rather unfortunate move. I still do not understand why the word ‘feed’ is not used. I noticed with this blog, it has a feed icon and the word ‘subscribe’ – which is fine.

      This should apply to all updates via feeds – including downloadable audio… The BBC should, instead of saying ‘free download’ simply say ‘download’.

      Apple users ARE a minority group and should not be allowed to dominate the language – but the change from a single word ‘Podcast’ to the rather unpalatable phrase ‘free download’ is an example of why the word ‘Podcast’ was accepted, it is simply shorter and easier.

  3. Marc Jurado Miró (Barcelona) says:

    I completely do agree with you. When I was listening the Chris Moyles Show Podcast in my Iphone I did not understand why there were saying it was about to be last one. I even thought that they (him, at least) were going to another radio station. Luckyly, when listening the last podcast (24 July) they said that it is technically the last one due to this changing name.

    I completely share your words and ideas given. What is the point about that? Ok, if I ask my grandfather about what “Podcast” means he will have no clue but if I ask any of my friends or people between 15 and 45, all of them will know.

    Anyway, the good point is that we two will be able to keep laughing with Moyles’ troupe. 😉

  4. chrisbheath says:

    @Dave I have tried contacting, but not received official info from them yet on the change. I’d like to think it isn’t a banning of names such as the fb/twitter story you mentioned, but you never know!

    @Karin that just proves how ridiculous the idea is, the word is growing rather than contracting!

    @Marc you’re right, all it’s done/will do is cause confusion. Like you say, not everyone uses the term, but a very big core does and that shouldn’t be ignored!

    Thanks for your comments

  5. Liam says:

    Hi Chris,
    Also a podcast Listener.

    I had a look into this, Being a web developer I did some checking etc.
    All elements of the BBC websites have more “Podcast” then “free download” still mentioned throughout the site.

    Since Podcast and not “free download” is a stronger keyword(s) their google ranking for these things will drop.

    Pretty much every device that has their podcasts as podcasts run under the directory / web section….. PODCAST.

    Any device or service that you section as Podcast when you upload the file and do not do so it will stick podcasts in your general song library. SO BBC if they add these would still have to choose “podast” as the type of audio.

    It is Appearing in dictionaries globally.

    The BBC website is a minute amount of their total download sources. Their biggest source is indeed itunes where it will be under the section “Podcasts”

    I can go on but I have found in no logical way this makes sense.
    It will cost them money and resources. As The shows team pointed out last week – All their audio from celeb’s will be trashed, voice over work that has been paid for – trashed, all the web work needed to be changed.
    The change will cost money, create confusion and get even less downloads from their actual site.

    Just Bizzare. I want to get this actioned to the BBC and explained as well!

  6. bicicleta eléctrica…

    […]BBC drops Podcast’s for ‘Free Download’ « The Rich, Harsh Poet[…]…

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