News Podcasts Are Thriving in the midst of the Global Podcasting Phenomenon

A new Reuters News report – News Podcasts and the Opportunities for Publishers – shows that podcasting has become a truly global phenomenon more than 15 years after the term was first coined.
Some key figures

  • 36% of those surveyed accessed a podcast each month
  • 15% accessed a news podcast
  • around 90 million people in the US listen to podcasts each month (2x 2015)
  • In the UK podcast usage is up a whopping 40% in the last year

The authors of the study reason that this boom is driven by:

“A younger – plugged in – generation looking for information, entertainment, and distraction”

As with most booming trends, the money is following in hot pursuit.
Ad dollars are flooding into the podcast space, and capital has been readily available in Europe and the US for startups like Luminary and Himalaya. The big tech platforms are also increasing their stakes. Apple is traditionally the king of podcasting – but now Spotify, Google and many others are investing heavily.
Against this backdrop, the report highlights the success of news podcasts in the space.
“The Daily” from The New York Times was the first major publisher podcasting success story, reaching an audience of millions daily and generating significant revenue.
This has clearly provided some inspiration for other news outlets.
News shows make up only 6% of the 770 thousand podcasts indexed by Apple.
They are punching above their weight though in terms of consumption, with news podcasts making up:

  • 21% of most popular episodes in the US
  • 34% in France
  • 18% in Australia
  • 16% in the UK

The category itself is growing really fast, with 12,000 new news podcasts launched between January and October 2019 (over 33% growth).
Some publishers are using podcasts to generate significant revenue.

“More than half of Slate’s total revenue now comes from podcasts. NPR is expecting to earn $55m from podcasting next year, overtaking radio in terms of sponsorship income”

It’s not so profitable for everyone though. Outside the Anglosphere and in smaller markets, monetization is much more challenging.
It’s not all about direct revenue though.

“But short-term revenue is often not the only motivation. Publishers see podcasts as a good way to build brand awareness and loyalty, which some hope may eventually transfer into subscriptions or donations”

Most publishers and commentators feel like there’s a lot more room for growth left, with new voice-driven interfaced making it easier for people to access on-demand audio on the fly.
Expect to see a lot more news podcasts launched in 2020, ranging from daily bulletins to in depth narrative pieces.
How is your podcast strategy going?
Read the full report here.
Also read more in these interesting analyses from Neiman Lab and Whats New in Publishing.