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Podcasts of all types have been growing in popularity over the past few years. Specifically since 2018, podcast usage overall has grown to 34%. However, when we look at news podcasts, a growing channel on its own, the growth is more gradual. Why might this be? There are two reasons, one of which is not specific to only news. There is a lack of data around who and what is being consumed across countries with a major lack of publicly available measurements. For news, other categories like business, technology and lifestyle also cover news topics which makes defining news consumption difficult.
Regardless, news organizations around the world are investing in podcasts and there are already some great examples of how successful they can be, and use cases for personalization with podcast applications specifically.
Let’s start by reviewing the information found by Reuters in their latest Digital News Report for 2023.
Let’s take a look at some key traits of podcast listeners from the 20 countries with established podcast industries that Reuters surveyed.
Young and Tech-Savvy: The majority of podcast audiences, around 56%, fall within the 18-24 age group. This younger demographic is highly engaged with digital content, spending significant time on their phones.
Preference for Audio: Younger listeners, in particular, have a preference for consuming news content through audio platforms. They enjoy listening to podcasts as background noise during daily activities like commuting, working out, or doing mundane tasks.
Balanced Gender Distribution: The gender distribution among podcast listeners is fairly balanced, with 37% male and 30% female. This presents an opportunity to create content that appeals to both genders.
Regional Variations: The United States has the highest podcast consumption rate at 19%, while France and the UK have relatively lower rates at 9% and 8%, respectively. This difference could be attributed to the availability and diversity of podcast productions, as well as effective monetization strategies in the USA.
Accessibility for Newcomers: The podcasting industry has a low barrier to entry, allowing younger generations to enter the scene with fresh perspectives and innovative content. This has contributed to the overall growth and vitality of the podcasting landscape.
When examining all of the different news podcasts that exist, they can be classified into one of four categories:
Updates on multiple stories in quick succession
Examine one or two subjects in detail using a narrative style
Narrative style series, multiple episodes on the same topic
Round table discussions, informal and personality led
When respondents in the 20 countries were asked about what kind of news and current affairs podcasts they listen to, extended chats with big personalities, like Joe Rogan, are mentioned often, along with deep dives such as the New York Times The Daily. News rounds up are also popular, as they fit easily into morning or evening routines
When looking at the 20 countries surveyed there were some very interesting takeaways. Some countries had a few big shows that dominated the responses with a very long tail of shows afterwards, and some were more evenly distributed.
USA and UK (with exception of Joe Rogan), tend to favor locally created content, whereas in Australia 46% of the most listened podcasts come from outside Australia. This is even higher in Canada and Ireland, where 50% is from outside those countries.
France & Spain tend to repackage their radio shows as podcasts which perform better than those created by publications, with 48% of top podcasts in Spain fitting in this repurposing category. However, there is some disruption happening, with examples from Les Echos and Le Monde in France.
Large countries in general have a hard time competing against tech platforms like Youtube & Tik Tok. In the majority of countries, Spotify for podcasts is the dominant platform, however in the USA that would be Youtube. This reflects how video podcasts are growing in relevance, not only for monetization potential and reach that Youtube provides, but also using video clips for social media to reach a broader audience.
At this point the majority of podcast users are familiar with The Daily from the New York Times. However, another great example of the power of combining types of podcasts is One Podcast, created by GEDI Gruppo Editoriale SpA. One Podcast combines editorial content from their mobile applications of their top news brands like La Stampa and Republicca, international podcasts in Italian, local radio stations and music mixes.
Understanding the need to capitalize on this audience in a meaningful way is what brought them to look at how to implement personalization in this platform. They implemented Froomle modules for their general podcast recommendations and their autoplay recommendations after an episode is finished. With all One Podcast users receiving Froomle recommendations, daily click through rates ranging from 7-10%.
Even though podcast consumption is growing, the size of the audience is not expected to match the amount of content being produced, and now more than ever it's important to produce high quality content, with a strong format and engaging hosts. For publications that are venturing a step further into creating their application or platform, incorporating personalization can help to increase session length and create an even stronger and relevant user experience for your audience. It will be a channel to keep an eye on for years to come.
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