Podcasting and the Daily News

The Daily News was once one of America’s most popular newspapers, a brawny metro tabloid famous for its crime reporting and the inspiration for the comic strip Clark Kent and Lois Lane. In its 20th-century heyday, the paper had the largest weekday circulation of any newspaper in the country. Today, under the ownership of Tribune Publishing, it has a smaller newsroom and fewer readers but continues to publish.

As we have seen across the US, UK and Europe, podcasting has proved a resilient platform during the coronavirus crisis, with audiences for many shows holding up better than they have in other genres. Moreover, it seems that daily news shows are doing particularly well, reflecting an appetite for deep and considered coverage on a fast-moving story. This trend has been accelerated by the pandemic, with publishers keen to capitalise on a heightened interest in news and deeper coverage.

We have heard from podcast producers in six countries about the way their business models are evolving around daily news and other on-demand audio. These stories reveal a range of different approaches and strategies, with some clearly having found their niche, and others struggling to make headway.

For some publishers, like the BBC and The Times in the UK, daily news podcasts are a new format for their journalism, complementing rather than replacing print or broadcast offerings. For others, it is a means to reach a new audience. For the former, it can provide a platform for long-form journalism that wouldn’t fit into their existing weekly chat or specialist content shows, while in the latter, it offers an opportunity to reach listeners who may have otherwise missed out on news and politics.

Despite their relative youth, daily news podcasts are already punching above their weight in terms of audience size. They account for less than 1% of all podcasts produced, but our research suggests they are attracting up to 10% of downloads in the US and 9% in France and Australia. The performance of these podcasts is especially impressive given that they tend to be shorter in duration than other news podcasts, such as microbulletins and some news round-ups.

The Daily News’s new show, anchored by journalist and ex-BBC presenter Manveen Rana, is a case in point. Launched in March, the show has attracted over a million downloads since it began recording during the lockdowns, with ratings holding up well even against the backdrop of declining podcast listening habits in general. It is being distributed by Talk Radio, which is owned by Wireless, the News UK group’s broadcast arm.

Other daily news shows are in development, including an FT News Briefing, a French-language offering from Le Monde and an English-language show from Le Parisien and Radio France. Several of these producers told us they were encouraged by the positive reaction to Pandemie, their short-lived podcast that covered COVID-19 issues during the crisis. While they won’t release podcast numbers, we can estimate that they are each attracting hundreds of thousands of listeners per episode, a substantial number considering their relatively early start and the relatively low overall penetration of the medium in these markets.