Daily news is a broad genre that ranges from deep-dive shows like The New York Times’ The Daily podcast to brief bulletins targeted at smart speakers. Its growth has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, but it also reflects publishers’ increased investment in audio and an ambition to capture audiences not reached by their print or online editions.
In the US, Vox’s Today Explained is a leading example of this trend. The show explains breaking stories rather than simply reporting them, and it has built up loyal followings through the pandemic thanks to its clear explanation of complex issues and its commitment to impartiality. This approach has a particular appeal in the US where voters are increasingly disillusioned with the major news organisations’ coverage of events.
The Times of London’s daily news podcast, The Story, is another high-quality example. The show focuses on one major news item every day and tells it through the lens of the newspaper’s long-established journalistic tradition. The Story’s production team is led by a veteran broadcaster, Manveen Rana, who has a strong track record of creating popular podcasts that appeal to younger audiences.
The number of active daily news podcasts has risen by more than 50% over the past 12 months. Most of the increase has been driven by publishers’ response to the pandemic, but it also reflects increased interest in this type of content generally. Podcast listening patterns have been less affected than many other formats, and our interviews suggest that advertising revenue from this content has held up well in comparison to other genres.
However, there are still challenges to this type of content. Daily news podcasts are attracting very large audiences, but they are primarily a niche within the overall podcasting market, and it is not yet clear whether they can attract the same audience numbers as other podcasts.
While some publishers have been able to make their daily shows profitable, others have found it harder. This is largely because they are dependent on large audiences from the US and UK, where there are established podcast ranking systems. It is also because they rely on a combination of subscription and ad sales to support the cost of production, so they are vulnerable when traffic drops.
We have identified 102 active daily news podcasts, with 37 of these launching in the last year. Despite the challenges of reaching new audiences, several publishers have made good returns on their investments, with a significant number generating more revenue than they would from subscriptions alone. We have included data from the podcast rankers from Spotify and Triton Digital, as well as interviews with some of the most prominent publishers in this category. The data excludes public broadcasters and Le Monde, which do not have an official ranking system. This means that the list should be viewed as indicative, rather than an ordered list. We are currently working on an alternative ranking system to enable a more accurate picture of the market.