The Podcast Conundrum

I have been listening to podcasts for somewhere between four and five years. I don’t listen to all that many but I listen to them all the time in the car. I don’t listen to music or the radio at all anymore. I regularly listen to four (The BS Report, ESPN Baseball Today, ESPNU College Football and Tech News Today). I try to fit in three others (This Week in Tech, MacBreak Weekly and Weekend Confirmed) if I can. The problem I have run into is that the time required to listen to these podcasts adds up really quick and I am unable to keep up. It led me to ask two questions, why are podcasts so long and how do other people manage to keep up?

The length question is an interesting one. This Week in Tech and MacBreak Weekly have grown from the early days of 75 minutes to easily 120 every week. Weekend Confirmed is between two and two and a half hours every week. Tech News Today, which debuted in early summer, started at about 30 minutes and is now close to an hour everyday. The seven podcasts I listen to add up to about 14 hours of content per week. I listen to them on 2x on the iPhone, which only trims it to about 75% or 10.5 hours. My weekly commute is about 7.5 hours. That means I have to find another three hours of time per week to keep pace.

My big hang up is trying to figure out why these podcasts are so long in the first place? I enjoy Weekend Confirmed, but who is a 2+ hour podcast designed for? I understand you can listen to podcasts while they work, do chores, exercise, etc., but two hours in a long time. Do people skip through uninteresting segments? Do the content creators expect this? I realize that for them, making a 2.5 hour podcast only takes one day, and because they only do it once a week it’s easy to talk for 2.5 hours, but finding that much time seems kind of crazy.

And what happens when people get behind? Things come up that cause you to fall behind an episode or two with a couple of podcasts. Do people go back and listen to them all? Or skip ahead and get caught up?

My friend pointed out the fact that I probably listen to more podcasts than most people, but part of thinks that just isn’t true. Dan Benjamin’s 5BY5 network is quite popular right now. He has 19 different shows, and while they all have varying topics if he expects that people will listen to even 9 of them, thats a pretty huge commitment of more than an hour per day. That doesn’t seem like that much, I suppose, if you only listen to 5BY5 shows, but if you try to listen to anything else it seems like it would get overwhelming.

So I ask the following questions: How many podcasts do you listen to? Where do you find time to listen to all of them? And what happens when you fall behind?