This study is a follow up to last year’s News Podcasts and the Opportunity for Publishers, which mapped out the wider environment based on industry data and interviews with leading publishers in five countries (the US, the UK, Australia, France, and Sweden). In this report, we focus on what has happened since to daily news podcasts in terms of audience growth and best practice, and we add a sixth country, Denmark. We also look in detail at the way coronavirus has affected audience listening patterns, the way these shows are produced, and what has happened to the content itself.
This report focuses on the phenomenon of daily news podcasts, one of the fastest growing areas of media consumption and a format that has been a lifeline for many people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For publishers like the New York Times (The Daily) and the Guardian (Today in Focus) these on-demand audio briefings are now attracting large daily audiences, building habit and loyalty for their brands, and driving significant revenue too. Elsewhere the daily podcast scene is more nascent, though more European public broadcasters and commercial publishers have been embracing them in the last year.
As in our previous report, we combine data analysis of podcast consumption and production with industry interviews with key players in each market. Overall, publishers remain extremely bullish about the prospects for daily news podcasts while recognizing that it may be only one of many new products that they need to develop to engage audiences and drive new revenue.
- Daily news podcasts make up less than 1% of all those produced but account for more than 10% of the overall downloads in the US and 9% in France and Australia, according to analysis of publicly available data. These shows are clearly punching well above their weight with audiences and have played an important role in helping to inform the public about a range of subjects, including coronavirus.
- Looking across six countries we have counted 102 daily news podcasts, of which 37 were launched in the last year. The French and Danish public broadcasters have made new investments, along with leading commercial publishers such as News Corp in Australia, and The Times and the Daily Mail in the UK. Apple has also launched a daily news podcast of its own – the first produced by a major platform company.
- The format pioneered by The Daily – a deep-dive of around 25 minutes – has proved particularly successful and has been most widely adopted by other publishers around the world. But this report has identified three other types: i) an extended chat; ii) a concise news round-up; and iii) a microbulletin aimed at smart speakers and streaming apps.
- More widely, publishers see daily news podcasts as a crucial way to attract younger audiences and to engage them more deeply with their brands. News organizations pursuing subscription business models say podcasts – specifically daily news podcasts – help increase loyalty and reduce churn.
- Patterns of listening have been significantly affected during the coronavirus crisis due to lockdowns and the loss of the daily commute. After an initial dip, listening to podcasts bounced back, with daily news podcasts faring better than most other genres. Our interviews suggest that advertising, too, has held up far better than in other areas, with many publishers reporting revenue matching or exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels.
- Coronavirus appears to have accelerated plans for daily news podcasts, with a number of publishers looking to tap into a heightened interest in news and in deeper coverage. A number of news brands launched ‘pop-up’ coronavirus podcasts during the lockdowns, many of which have become breakout hits.
- In this report, we start by setting out the key data showing how daily news podcasting has grown over the last year. We explore the latest developments in each country and incorporate case studies from companies that have launched shows in the last year. We pull together top tips from daily podcast hosts and editors on how to make a successful show and, finally, we look at potential future developments in distribution and monetization.
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