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News Podcasts Are Making Inroads With Americans Willing To Pay For Content, Survey Finds.


Podcasters looking to grow their subscription dollars may find opportunity in the news genre. A new report from the Media Insight Project finds that among Americans aged 16 to 40, nearly half (48%) regularly consume news via a podcast or watching online video. They are willing to pay for it, too. Among those consumers, a majority (52%) say they pay for the news podcast and video either by a subscription or donation, compared to 43% who do not.


The podcast finding is one of several from the Media Insight Project, which concludes that Gen Z and Millennials are willing to pay for or donate to a wide range of media sources. Overall, the analysis finds that six in ten people younger than 40 already pay for or donate to news in some way. And people who pay for or donate to news comprised a majority in every age category researchers evaluated. The report does say however that the older they are, the more likely they are to pay or donate. Overall, 51% of Gen Z (16- to 24-year-olds) pay for or donate to news, and that number rises to 63% among younger Millennials (25- to 31-year-olds) and to 67% among older Millennials (32- to 40-year-olds).


“The numbers suggest a real potential for sustainable revenue — if news organizations, whether legacy or start-up, can create content Millennials and Gen Zers find valuable,” the report says.


The data shows that new media formats are most appealing to people younger than 40. It says Americans ages 16 to 40 are more than twice as likely to pay for or donate to audio content from independent creators (47%) than to traditional sources like print or digital newspapers (22%).


The Media Insight Project says those who pay for news seem to share some common behavior characteristics according to the survey. In general, they spend a great deal of time online, are more likely to actively seek out news, and use traditional and social media sources to get news daily than those who do not pay for or donate to news. Yet despite being more active, researchers say a majority of Gen Z and Millennials who pay for or donate to news “bump” into news more than seek it out.


Race also seems to be a factor. The report says Black (68%) and Hispanic (63%) Americans are slightly more likely than White Gen Z and Millennials (57%) to pay for or donate to news. Six in ten Asian Americans pay for or donate to news sources.


The survey finds that Gen Z and Millennials who pay for or donate to news are just as likely to feel worn out by the news as those who do not pay for or donate to news and Americans ages 16 to 40 overall. It also finds that the news fatigue doesn’t mean they won’t pay for the content. “Supporting a news mission they believe in may be important to them. That means relaying a news organization’s mission becomes critical when creating more ways for people to pay or donate,” the report says.


Based on the findings, the authors say producers should evaluate why Gen Z and Millennials are nearly twice as likely to pay for a podcast than legacy sources like magazines or public broadcasting, such as the perceived authenticity of individual voices; the formats or style of content; or even the often-multiple ways individuals can support creators – such as through recurring or one-time payments.


The report is based on data that was collected from a representative sample of 5,975 news consumers aged 16 to 40 from May 18 to June 8, 2022. It was conducted by the Media Insight Project, a collaboration of The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute. Download the full report HERE.

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