Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Facing financial meltdown // A gentle nudge for donations as podcasting costs spiral

Published by Mr. C

Who's facing financial meltdown? Someone, somewhere, probably. At least it isn't F1 and thankfully nor is it Sidepodcast. The following text however, needed a hook to draw some attention to what is an unearthly dull, and maybe ever-so-slightly embarrassing subject. We're British and therefore we don't like to talk about money very much.

Despite our very best efforts, this site continues to grow in numbers. We did our utmost in 2010 to send people away, but that didn't work out so well and now we're back, growth continues apace. Download numbers for podcasts have been increasing since we started in 2007 and at this kind of scale, delivery isn't cheap.

Cheap as microchips

To keep things in perspective, we're not talking Netflix levels of movie downloading 'not cheap'. We're talking significantly more than your average blog level of 'not cheap'. Blogs generally cost next to nothing to host. Many companies offer them for free and even with a top quality host, you'd struggle to spend more than £30 a month to keep even the most popular of blogs running. If we hosted our podcasts with a top quality host, we could easily spend £190+ just on delivering files (2TB @ £0.070/GB).

That kind of monthly expense may be nothing to a large company, but would clearly cripple a site running on a budget of zero. To get around the cost of bandwidth, we have for a long time been moving files between cheap servers who offer limited amounts for a fixed low fee. There are downsides to this solution, one is we spend forever monitoring usage and the second is that download speeds to listeners can vary considerably.

Neither Christine or I are willing to keep up this crazy charade any longer, so we are going to put our podcasts on a decent quality host and we are going to have to pay. We cannot afford the £2,000+ per year for delivery of course, so the solution is to create a little less content. We've already decided not to put out as many/any video podcasts in 2011 (no more circuit previews) and may have to put some content behind a paywall before too long.

Audio podcasts remain entirely unaffected for this year.

Cloud cover

While all this sounds like not particularly good news, it doesn't mean we'll be creating any less quality content, just less of the expensive-to-deliver content. The problem here is purely one of scale and the shows are too popular. We have tried almost every host going and all low-cost solutions have let us down in one way or another. The best solution for us at the moment is CloudFront so we'll be moving things over to there soon.

You can of course help us out with the cost of hosting and we'll be encouraging more donations via the site and during various podcasts. Select any of the options below to help keep us going.

Thank you.