Stitcher Makes Technical Changes Affecting Podcasters

Stitcher has announced some favourable changes that will impact podcasters who have content in their directory. What started with initially removing the re-hosting of files and downloading direct to the source, further changes are being made to align themselves better with current analytics methodologies.

Podcast microphone

Last year, we began a process of implementing changes to the way Stitcher communicates with podcasters’ hosting providers. We started by moving all podcasters to direct streaming from the source–the Stitcher apps now make a direct file request to your hosting infrastructure whenever a user chooses to play or download an episode of a show.

This change, which we previously made on an ad-hoc basis for podcasters who requested it, gives you better insight into your overall download metrics and better facilitates server-side dynamic ad insertion.

To give podcasters more standardized, accurate and granular data about their shows, we will be making additional changes to align Stitcher’s downloading definitions with some of the emerging standards put forth by the IAB.

On October 2, 2017 we will remove this pinging behavior. This will provide clarity for all of our partners and it will support the IAB’s measurement initiatives. We will:

  • Make downloading new episodes in user Favorites the default app behavior
  • Record as a download any playback that downloads at least 200 kb (standard put forth by the IAB)
  • Present a separate “Front Page Impressions” metric in our partner portal.

We’re pleased to see these technical changes at Stitcher. As for how this affects FeedPress customers, it’s possible you may see an increase in downloads because of these changes.

FeedPress Adds Support for New Apple Podcast Tags

Apple Podcast Spec Updates

The week of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple announced that they have updated their RSS podcast spec to include additional tags for podcast publishers. These tags will provide support for additional functionality inside of their own “Apple Podcasts” app. The tags themselves add features that many podcasters have been looking for, such as the ability to specify an episode as trailer, bonus, or full episode.

Apple Podcast Spec Updates

New Podcast Tags

We have added support for the following podcast tags:

  <itunes:episodeType>full</itunes:episodeType>
  <itunes:episodeType>trailer</itunes:episodeType>
  <itunes:episodeType>bonus</itunes:episodeType>

Customers who use FeedPress’ podcast publishing platform can use the “Episode Type” field to specify an episode as a trailer, bonus episode, or full episode, as illustrated below.

FeedPress Publisher Supports New Apple Podcast RSS Tags

it should be noted that whilst the tags can be included now, we won’t see the changes reflected until Apple releases iOS 11 to the public, which won’t be until September and likely after the release of iPhone 8.

Conclusion

It’s really exciting to see Apple moving the needle on podcasts to improve both the listener’s and publisher’s experience. What do you think of the new podcast tags and the changes to Apple’s podcast app on iOS 11? Leave a comment below to chat with us.

FeedPress Adds Automatic JSON Feed Support

JSONFeed

Beloved Mac developers and long time bloggers, Brent Simmons and Manton Reece have launched JSON Feed. The take away for developers is as follows:

For most developers, JSON is far easier to read and write than XML. Developers may groan at picking up an XML parser, but decoding JSON is often just a single line of code.

Why care?

So why should anyone care about this with respect to podcasts when Apple controls the ecosystem? Although its early days for the spec, our opinion is that innovation in a space with an established, albeit old spec is a healthy thing.

RSS is and continues to be a workable transportation method for podcast data, but even RSS–which has been around since 1999–needs enhancement. That’s why open source initiatives like syndicated.media exist to take podcast functionality and RSS to the next level (we’re closely watching this).

What impact does it have?

Does this mean that JSON Feed will make any significant impact? That remains to be seen, but we’re pleased to see people move the needle forward.

Co-creator, Manton Reece wrote about how JSON Feed relates to podcast functionality:

JSON Feed includes an attachments array, which is similar to the enclosure element in RSS that enabled podcasting. We love podcasting and included an example podcast feed in the JSON Feed specification.

How FeedPress supports JSON Feed

Experimental JSON support is live on FeedPress. JSON Feed is generated every time the XML feed is refreshed and is not a replication from the source, it’s a creation. The JSON feed validates and it handles podcasts on RSS and Atom.

Conclusion

There is nothing FeedPress customers need to do in order to get JSON compatible feeds. Simply append the ?format=json parameter to the end of your RSS feed.

Here’s an example URL: https://podcast.hologramradio.org/master?format=json

FeedPress customers are encouraged to test this with compatible RSS readers and Podcast apps. We’d love to hear your feedback.

Update: As of May 31, 2017, the feed_url paramter has been added. As per JSON Feed spec documentation, it’s highly recommended:

Apple Silently Adds Support for Let’s Encrypt Certificates on Podcast Feeds

FeedPress has had SSL support for RSS feeds and hosted podcast media since June 2016. Let’s Encrypt is an open source certificate authority that has been adopted by millions and provides easy access for companies like us to issue free SSL certificates to every customer.

An obstacle podcasters have had since Let’s Encrypt’s introduction is that iTunes Podcast Connect would reject feeds using their SSL certificates. The reason for this is because the iTunes Java Root Store was old and didn’t recognize Let’s Encrypt as a valid certificate authority.

This week we were alerted that the folks at iTunes had silently updated their infrastructure to support Let’s Encrypt. FeedPress has tested compatibility and is pleased to confirm that you can now submit podcast feeds to iTunes using Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates. As of the publication date of this blog post, Apple has yet to update their FAQ on official support for Let’s Encrypt.

Please refer to our tutorial below to learn how to enable HTTPS on podcast feeds:

http://support.feed.press/article/113-enabling-ssl-on-hosted-feedpress-feeds

Conclusion

Note that although SSL is a feature that is available in FeedPress, it’s not a compatibility requirement for iTunes at the moment. If you don’t feel comfortable turning it on, we recommend leaving it off until Apple provides a cut off date when it must be enabled.

Podcast Publisher: Specify Publish Date And Time in Your Posts

Available today on our Podcast Publishing system, you can specify a publish date and time on posts. This was a requested feature and is something we wanted to get into v1 of the podcast publisher system but didn’t get to.

Customers requested this as it’s an expected feature in a CMS, but also because it’s handy when you migrate from other hosting services and need to re-create your posts and preserve the original publishing date and time.

Selecting a publish date and time

date and time fields

The new date picker

date picker

Updates to File Storage

Several months ago we increased the provisioned file storage from 250MB to 400MB for all customers. Today we made a tweak to File Storage to include a status that reflects whether or not that file is attached to a post. For example, if you have a draft post with an uploaded file, the file will say “Draft.” If you have a post that’s been published, the status of the file will reflect “Published.”

podcast file storage status

Publish your own podcast

You remember that feeling of delight you experienced when you first tried ice cream as a kid. That’s what podcasting on FeedPress feels like. Publish your own podcast today on a 14-day trial and experience delight once again.