Publishers are no certainly strangers to the space, with audio offerings stretching back almost two decades. But as podcasts’ popularity continues to endure, here’s what makes news brand podcasts significant
Everyone’s got a podcast these days. In a time when every celebrity has a show about a niche Netflix documentary and TikTok’s latest viral sensations review meal deal sandwiches, why should podcasts from news brands be particularly special?
However, publishers’ podcasting pedigree runs deep and, combined with consumers’ trust in their news brands and their ability to engage new audiences in innovative ways, there’s plenty that makes news brand podcasts stand out.
News, views and more
At first thought, news brand podcasts conjure up ideas of deep dives into the hard news headlines of the day. That’s not wrong, at least to some extent — podcasts such as The Times’ ‘Stories of our times’ and Evening Standard’s ‘The Leader’ are prolific examples of podcasts tackling the top of the news agenda with digestible, in-depth analysis.
But just as news brands are more than just what makes the front pages, news brand podcasts have been much more than just the political analysis for the morning commute for almost 20 years. In 2005, the Guardian launched ‘The Ricky Gervais Show’ off the back of the comedian’s hugely successful radio show in the early noughties, while a year later, The Telegraph trialled the emerging technology by releasing daily cricket updates covering England’s test match with India.
Fast forward two decades and there is something for almost every taste, covered by journalists from every beat. From serious long-form investigations and heartfelt series on important issues to humorous looks into celebrities’ eating habits and heated debates on the latest sporting action, everyone is catered for (click here for recommendations for your next binge listen).
A unique listenership
Then there’s the audience, an increasingly unique one for news brands. With general podcast listenership growing, younger and more affluent than average, publishers find those coming to their podcasts are increasingly those who would normally never come across their content in print or on their websites.
Take the Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast, for instance. The news brand’s head of audio Nicole Jackson told the Podcast Show how the narrative aspect of podcasting made the medium a more attractive way of consuming news and investigations for those interested in the world but not necessarily in written form. More generally, she added: “Podcasts have become a gateway for Guardian journalism… [bringing in] a much younger audience to web and print.”
For example, when it came to finding ways of making more accessible its Pegasus Papers investigation — an important but data-heavy investigation into the surveillance of journalists and other figures worldwide — the podcast became a powerful solution.
Speaking on another panel about the enduring popularity of true crime and investigative podcasts, The Telegraph’s deputy investigations editor Katherine Rushton also mentioned how the team’s long-form investigations captured new audiences for the news brand. She said: “There are a lot of people who are not in the habit of reading newspapers that do listen to podcasts.”
The power of news brand podcasts for advertisers
The combination of relevant and engaging content and a unique audience of those not normally drawn to written journalism brings brands opportunities to align with issues listeners care about.
Guardian Advertising’s 2022 report into the power of podcasts for advertisers spotlights the medium’s attention superpower, with listeners showing well above average engagement for longer on content and particularly engaged around ad breaks. It also found that podcasts’ personal nature were well suited to telling listeners something new about a brand, raising perceptions of it and driving purchase and word of mouth.
What does that look like for brands wanting to harness news brand podcasts in particular? Metro’s roster of shows is particularly based around the issues readers face every day; with that in mind, its head of innovation and partnerships Natasha Acquisto underlines the role of authenticity.
She says: “We want to work with brands that share similar values and have a clear synergy ensuring an authentic output that will resonate with our listeners.”
Explore more from the world of news brand podcasts on our podcast mini-hub.