One in four Americans aged 18 and older say they have listened to a news podcast in the past month, according to Triton Digital data. That puts the genre second only to Comedy, which attracted 38% of listeners. The numbers look similar in Canada where 24% said they listened to a news podcast in a fall survey of listeners there by Signal Hill Insights.
But what’s driving that consumption? Signal Hill President Jeff Vidler says their recently-released Canadian Podcast Listener study offers evidence that it’s the ability to go in-depth about a topic or story in a way that other audio media typically does not. Their data found just 11% liked the “micro bulletin of headline news” approach in a podcast.
What drew a more positive reaction from daily news podcast listeners were the ability of podcasts to go in-depth as well as provide a “personal connection” to the stories in a way that other media cannot. Podcast news also out-scored AM/FM radio on attributes including convenience, habit-forming, and trustworthiness.
“Listeners differ on the ideal daily news approach, but long-form podcasts were chosen by a wide margin over a brief headline format. Some preferred a deep dive into a specific news story; others chose a broad news roundup or an extended chat or monologue,” Vidler says in a blog post.
Vidler says there is good reason for podcast listeners to prefer longer-form storytelling on news podcasts. “Podcast listeners can get quick news hits pretty much anywhere,” he says. Vidler also thinks news podcasts offer proof that there is a demand for in-depth audio journalism.
“The news podcasts with the biggest audiences typically run 20 minutes to half an hour and sometimes as long as an hour or longer,” he says. “But there’s more to it than length. There’s that ‘personal connection’ we see in the research. Hearing a reporter, pundit or the person at the center of the news offer their testimony delivers nuance and feeling you can’t get from the printed word or a TV sound bite. It also opens the door to podcasting’s superpower of storytelling.”