The coronavirus crisis has substantially increased news consumption for mainstream media, and that includes for news-focused podcast content. The Reuters Institute’s annual Digital News Report says the proportion using podcasts has “grown significantly” in the last year. Nic Newman, Senior Research Associate and lead author of the report, said that across the six countries (U.S., U.K, Germany, Spain, South Korea and Argentina) Reuters surveyed in early-April, half said podcasts provide more depth and understanding than other types of media.
That is likely a factor in why the report says during the past few years podcasts have become another important channel for driving loyalty to specific news brands. It notes the New York Times-produced The Daily now has about two million daily listeners, which has helped the newspaper attract new subscribers.
“The underlying picture remains one of growth,” the report says. “Our data show an overall rise in podcast listening to 31% across a basket of 20 countries we have been tracking since 2018.” That includes 36% of Americans who report listening to podcasts on a monthly basis. “Podcast listeners tend to be younger and mainly listen via headphones/mobile phones,” the report says. It suggests that’s helping news brands reach a younger demographic than what they are able to reach on broadcast radio.
“Many podcasts contain an informational element — sport, lifestyle, true crime — but podcasts specifically about news and politics are amongst the most widely listened to,” the Reuters report says. “About half of podcast users listen to a news podcast in the U.S., where the market has developed furthest,” it says. Reuters goes on to say that 59% of U.S. podcast users say the format gives greater depth and understanding of complex issues. And 57% say podcasts offer a wider range of perspectives than other types of media.
Across all the countries it surveyed, Reuters said news podcasts are most popular among 25- to 34-year-old listeners. And although those aged 18 to 24 are less likely to listen to news podcasts, it says they are some of the heaviest consumers of lifestyle and celebrity podcasts, as well as true crime.
The deep connection that many podcasts seem to create could be opening up opportunities for paid podcasts, alongside advertising-driven models,” says Reuters. Its survey of the U.S. market found nearly four in ten Americans (38%) would be prepared to pay for podcasts they liked. That was on par with the rate in Canada (37%) and Australia (39%). The rate was significantly lower in Sweden (24%) and the U.K. (21%), which Reuters attributes to the fact that many popular podcasts come from free-to-air public broadcasters.
The annual global look at news consumption habits also noted that Spotify has been moving more into podcasting, a move that it notes is exposing podcasts to a more mainstream audience while also raising questions in the industry. Reuters says some publishers have begun withholding content from Spotify — or are previewing it first in their own apps.
Download the full report HERE.