How can I tackle shifting position issues while Streaming?

If you're encountering shifts or seemingly random rewinding in your podcast's playback position during streaming, this is likely related to dynamic ad insertion, a common feature in many ad-supported podcasts.

What Causes the Shifting/Rewinding Positions?

Dynamic ad insertion technology allows podcast providers to insert ads into the podcast episodes in real-time during streaming. These ads are not fixed and can change in content and duration each time the episode is accessed. This variability in ad length means that the overall duration of the podcast episode can shift between sessions. If your streaming is interrupted and your device re-buffers, it may resume playback at a position that doesn't align with the original content sequence due to new ads being inserted, leading to perceived shifts or rewinding in the playback.

How to Address This Issue:

  1. Download Episodes: The most effective solution is to download the podcast episodes before listening. This circumvents the issues caused by dynamic ad insertion during streaming, as the downloaded file will have a fixed set of ads, thus a consistent playback duration. Additionally, both the downloading and subsequent deletion of episodes can be easily be automated.
  2. Use SmartStream Cache Feature: An alternative solution is to try the SmartStream Cache feature available in the settings/player section of the app. This experimental feature is designed to enhance the streaming experience by caching buffered data locally in a temporary file. It speeds up the resumption of playback for partially listened episodes and can be particularly beneficial if you tend to listen to episodes across multiple sessions.
    Note on SmartStream Cache and Dynamic Ads: SmartStream Cache is designed to generally improve streaming issues for most podcasts by enhancing playback efficiency. However, in the case of longer podcasts that use dynamic ad insertion, it's possible that this feature may inadvertently exacerbate the problem, leading to more pronounced shifts in episode duration due to the variable nature of the ads. Therefore, while SmartStream Cache can be a beneficial tool for many podcasts, careful consideration is advised when using it with lengthier episodes. The feature offers flexibility, allowing you to enable or disable it for individual podcasts, so you can tailor your experience based on the specific behavior of each podcast.
  3. Troubleshooting: If you experience any playback issues while using SmartStream Cache or any other feature, consider disabling it to check if that resolves the issue. Disabling problematic features will often revert to standard streaming behavior, eliminating conflicts with dynamic ad insertion.

By understanding the cause of these playback shifts and using the above solutions, you can significantly enhance your podcast listening experience, whether you prefer streaming or downloading your episodes.