In a world where many newspaper companies are struggling, daily news podcasts seem to be a bright spot. While they make up only a small fraction of all podcasts, these shows are gaining ground in the US and elsewhere. The New York Times’ The Daily has been a huge success, and other publishers have followed suit with their own take on the format. These podcasts range from deep-dive interviews to a New York Times-inspired roundup to brief microbulletins aimed at smart speakers.
Publishers are also experimenting with different production and delivery models. Some, such as NPR’s Consider This, have injected local segments from partner stations. Others, like BBC Radio’s The Times, have teamed up with Wireless Group (which operates TalkRadio in the UK) to bring professional studios and commercial expertise to the table.
Many podcasts are not measured in terms of downloads, and those that do only provide aggregated data rather than breakdowns by genre. However, some publishers are prepared to share raw numbers – for example the Guardian says its flagship daily show Today in Focus reaches hundreds of thousands of listeners each day. French publisher Les Echos, meanwhile, claims its La Story podcast reaches 770,000 listeners per month in the country. Neither figure comes close to the levels of some of the bigger daily newspapers, which can achieve tens of millions of downloads each month for their podcasts.
Daily news podcasts require a significant time investment, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the content. Some, such as The Daily, are built around a single host and aim to present a comprehensive overview of the latest news. Others, such as NPR’s top shows News Now and Up First, are more focused on deep-dive interviews with key figures. Yet others, such as Swedish Radio’s popular Ekot podcast and its repackaged microbulletin for smart speakers, are more functional, with the focus on efficient delivery of the news itself.
The challenge for podcasts is not just in the production of the show, but in how it is discovered and promoted. While some of the largest publishers can use their existing platforms to cross-promote a new show, smaller players are worried about being squeezed between the big names and third-party platform promoters.
This analysis looks at the 102 daily news podcasts produced by newspaper groups and broadcasters in six countries. It examines the different formats and lengths, and identifies the four main types: long, extended chats; New York Times-inspired deep-dives; concise news round-ups; and short bulletins for smart speakers.
Data through 2012 is from Editor & Publisher and the formerly named Newspaper Association of America, and data from 2013 onwards is based on the Center’s analysis of financial statements from publicly traded newspaper companies. Estimates are based on a weighted average of weekday and Sunday print and digital circulation. Data includes ad and circulation revenue for both national and regional newspapers.