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Best practices for podcasting's open infrastructure

Get the order right, and respect serial podcasts

Ensure that your app supports the itunes:type field. Serial podcasts, where a story slowly unfolds over a period of shows, are a growing part of podcasting, and the order of these shows is important. (Nobody wants to find out whodunnit by mistake!)

If you see <itunes:type>serial</itunes:type> in the RSS feed, ensure that your app behaves as a user expects:

  1. Ensure you use the <itunes:episode> tag to order the episodes so that the first episode is visible at the top of the list.
  2. If a show has more than one season, ensure you use the the <itunes:season> tag to show the newest season to a user first. So if a podcast is up to season five, a new listener should initially see Season 5.

Tip: Make it easy to navigate subsequent seasons. Some serial podcasts, like fiction podcasts, are designed to be listened to in season order, as well as the correct order within a season.

Consider showing a trailer, if one exists, prominently at the top of any episode list. Consider hiding this trailer once a user has listened to it.

Tip: The PodClock podcast app testing feed has two seasons. Season one contains a number of esoteric tests; season two contains one episode with a ‘clock’ download timer.

Tip: RSS feeds are usually ordered in date order, with the newest episode first: but apps shouldn’t rely on the order of the RSS feed for display purposes. If season and episode numbers are being used, use those instead to order your episodes.

Further reading

Page authors: jamescridland evoterra

Site authors: James Cridland Evo Terra