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News publishers are laser-focused on podcast production

December 8, 2020 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN

Three quarters of Americans are familiar with podcasting and more than half of them have listened to a podcast. As a result, today’s news publishers view podcast production as an imperative. Reuters Institute’s new study, Daily news podcasts: building new habits in the shadow of coronavirus, identifies two main reasons for this decision: 

  1. News publishers recognize that daily news podcasts are levers to help drive brand loyalty and retention, and  
  2. They know that the podcasting listener is a highly valued and monetized advertising target audience of young, urban, and educated consumers.

The Reuter’s study also offers insight into daily news podcast growth and the coronavirus’ impact on this platform across six countries: U.S., U.K., France, Australia, Sweden, and Denmark.

Marketplace growth

Podcast production is booming. Across the six countries surveyed, there is a total of 102 daily news podcasts. In fact, 37 launched in the last 12 months alone.

In terms of content genres, news podcasts now comprise 7% of the estimated 1.3 million podcast shows. While daily news shows account for less than 1% of total production in the U.S., they are 10% of the top 250 episodes consumed. Further, many publishers report that daily news podcasts are doing better in advertising sales than other genres.

Pandemic impact and production pivots

The pandemic-ordered lockdown in March created publisher concerns. Without commuters listening to their daily news podcasts, many wondered if their podcasting audiences would remain. Interestingly, while daily news podcasts and other podcast genres suffered initial declines, they quickly regained their audiences. In fact, many publishers report that their advertising revenue is equal to or greater than pre-Covid-19 levels.

The coronavirus also forced podcast production to alter their routine. Interviews are no longer conducted in-person, in the studio but instead via an app in a reporter’s home. While journalists report they miss the face-to-face interview dynamic, the creativity and flexibility in the new process is welcomed.

Some best practices learned

National Public Radio emphasizes local

NPR offers seven different daily news podcasts. Their newest, Consider This, is an evening roundup of national and local news. While this format is a familiar in local radio, its new to daily news podcasts. NPR’s use of ad insertion technology creates an innovative tool to upload the local city segments for each show.

The Wall Street Journal learns through co-production

The Wall Street Journal has an audio-first production mentality. They started investing in audio a few years back by looking for audio products to add value to their subscription model. They co-produce programming with Gimlet, a pioneer an early to market podcast production house, which is now owned by Spotify. The WSJ has two new franchises, The Journal, a deep-dive show and What’s News, a round-up of business news published twice a day. As part of the co-production deal with Spotify, they also have early access to their targeted advertising products.

Vox Media’s podcast extend its brand mission

Vox sees podcasting as a great vehicle to tell stories, especially in first-person. Today Explained is their  signature podcast, which helps explain the news and provide its context. It was originally a co-production with Stitcher, a podcast production studio. However, now it is an in-house production and a standout success among Vox’s 200 podcasts.

Daily news podcasts continued to grow as does consumer demand. From long, extended chats and deep dives to news roundups and bulletins, there’s no wrong format or one right length. In fact, experimentation in podcasting is often the key to success. However, it does require time and investment. While podcasting short-term goals look to growth audiences and engagement, long-term goals seek to attract advertising and sponsorship revenue. As publishers look to appeal to the next generation, audio products are a great way to begin this conversation.

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