Estimated read time: 4 minutes
We are used to seasons on TV shows, so it makes sense to think about podcast seasons for podcast episodes. But does it make sense to publish podcasts that way, and when should you consider it?
That’s the topic of this article.
What are podcast seasons?
Podcasts that publish in seasons usually release:
- several episodes at once (think how Netflix does this). However, this practice isn’t super common yet for podcasts.
- one episode at a time until the season’s releases are complete. This is more common and similar to how appointment-TV viewing has worked for decades.
Once all the episodes have been published, there’s usually a break until the next season, just like on TV.
I’ve seen seasons with six or 20 episodes, so there are no hard and fast rules of how many episodes should make up one season.
On the flipside, podcasts that don’t publish podcast seasons keep posting at their usual intervals. For example, The Business Storytelling Show publishes a new episode every three days. There have been over 500 episodes, but no Season 1, Season 2, and so forth. It’s just an ongoing activity.
Read next: Should I publish my podcast on television?
What are the advantages of podcast seasons?
Seasons can make sense if your podcast tells an ongoing story and if that story or content thread gets mentioned and tied together through a season.
For a corporate branded podcast, that might mean that Season 1 covers the topic of customer preferences in retail, for example. Season 2 might cover how to handle parking issues in retail. And so forth. Each subject could then have a handful of episodes with guests discussing different aspects of the topic.
Seasons also might help with production for teams that are new to podcasting. For example, they can go on a sprint every few months or whatnot, publish a season and then move on to other tasks. Then, at some point, it’s time again to produce Season 2.
For brands that work with podcast agencies, billing per season might be easier.
In theory, breaks between seasons could help busy executives who often host them.
What are the disadvantages of podcast seasons?
Audiences might forget about your podcast. It’s hard to build a habit when it keeps getting interrupted. For example, I seek out some of my favorite podcasts on the days they usually publish. How would I keep track of when a new season starts? It’s like building a relationship over and over.
With seasons, it could be essential to tie each season together somehow. That could be through a specific story or theme. However, booking guests can be hard enough even without that relatedness requirement. So that could create a bit of a barrier to making this easy.
How to decide whether seasons are the way for your podcast
As usual, it all depends on your goal and availability. I use my podcasts as a centerpiece to get content for every other channel that I need content for. That includes my blog, emails, and social media. So, I need that content from the podcast episodes to make the overall content strategy an success.
Podcasts also are a great way to learn new things and hear unique perspectives from guests. It’s not like I create the podcast as a standalone content asset, but it acts as an essential piece to the overall success of the content strategy. From that perspective, doing one season with 12 episodes each year wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t be nearly enough source content for the rest of my content initiatives.
On the other hand, if the podcast is a standalone piece for some general awareness and content on additional channels, it might be a better idea to go with seasons.
You’ll also want to decide how to number episodes. I know some seasonal podcasters list them like this:
- (Episode) 1
Sometimes that can look like this in the Title:
2: < Title of episode>
But if that’s Season 13 it can look like it’s a brand-new podcast to the casual observer. After all, it’s just episode No. 2. The Title could also be:
But of course, that adds characters to the title, too.
On my ongoing show, I just list it as:
522: <title of episode>
Typically, for me, the ongoing podcast strategy makes the most sense. But, there can be reasons for either ongoing or seasonal podcast releases. Whatever you decide, make sure it makes sense with the overarching strategy. And keep going for a while. Podcasting – like many organic content initiatives can take time to fully develop its potential.