Podcast Seasons

15th May 2014

It has become more common in podcast land (wherever that is) to refer to podcasts in terms of seasons. I did this myself just recently. Sometimes there is a break between episodes of a month or more for a littany of reasons and in other cases the style of the show changes either slightly or dramatically. Sometimes the hosts change but the podcast remains the same. Irrespective the practice of splitting television shows into seasons is based more around the concept of expenditure: there is only a fixed budget to create a total number of shows each year (let’s say 20) and each year is commissioned by the network up front, writers and actors are set in motion, recording and editing happen and eventually you have a well-defined season of that show.

Can podcasts really be compared to that? If a show has a few weeks off between episodes then that doesn’t make it the next season. Production delays, strikes, sponsorship agreements and sporting events may delay shows for a month at a time and yet it is still referred to as the same season for that show. The season is defined by the group of people that produce the show moreso than any gaps during its production.

Most home-grown podcasts have little to no budget, no crew (or a very small one), no writers and no actors. They essentially run linearly from start to finish with no regular gaps of any kind. If there’s a gap but the show stays the same, how it is reasonable to consider it a new season? That alone would seem to be insufficient for the moniker. If the format changes significantly and/or key hosts change then an arguement could be made to split the podcast and call it a different season.

I’m a stickler for the correct use of terminology but inevitably there isn’t a hard and fast rule and I’m just choosing to draw the line where I see fit. I’ve used the term "season" recently to describe the change of format of Pragmatic and the move to Indie but ultimately the episodes will still be numbered sequentially and will lack the "S01Exx" that is normally associated with TV Shows.