Daily News Podcasts and the Coronavirus Pandemic

Daily news is a popular format for podcasts, drawing listeners into regular briefings and building loyalty and habit. It’s also a key tactic for news organisations pursuing subscription business models, where they can build up audience loyalty and reduce churn by providing a steady flow of revenue. This report looks at how both commercial publishers and public service broadcasters have been adapting daily news podcasts in the wake of coronavirus, and at their wider implications for the future.

The New York Daily News is a tabloid newspaper in the city of New York, published every day except Sunday. The paper is best known for sensational news coverage and lurid photographs, but it also publishes cartoons and other entertainment features. The paper was founded in 1919 by Joseph Medill Patterson as the Illustrated Daily News, and reached its peak circulation in 1947 at 2.4 million copies a day. It is the oldest and largest newspaper in the United States. The paper’s headquarters is at 220 East 42nd Street, a Manhattan landmark designed by architects John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood.

In recent years the paper has exhibited a moderate-to-liberal editorial bias and has been a longtime rival of the self-proclaimed conservative New York Post. The Daily News is owned by the Alden Global Capital hedge fund, which has accelerated plans to cut costs and outsource printing operations since taking control last year.

While there are many different formats for daily news podcasts, the most successful have been those pioneered by The Daily – a deep-dive of around 25 minutes, published twice a day. This model is now being replicated by other news publishers and broadcasters, including the BBC (BBC World Today) and DR (Daily Radio).

This report looks at how these daily news podcasts have been evolving during the pandemic. We hear about their impact on listening patterns, and on advertising revenues, and at their broader implications for the future of subscription media.

Despite the pandemic, listening to daily news has not waned as much as in other genres, and many publishers see the genre as an important part of their future strategy. We look at a number of case studies, from a range of countries, and talk to publishers about their motivations and strategies. We include examples of both Danish and Swedish podcasts. In the latter, SR has split its popular news podcast Ekot into two feeds – one with longer, in-depth segments published a couple of times a day, and another with short microbulletins for smart speakers. We also include a podcast from Apple News, which launched a daily news show during the pandemic and is now expanding its offering across the US. In both Denmark and Sweden, the growth of daily news is accelerating faster than elsewhere in Europe. This may be partly because other genres – particularly culture and documentaries – are more popular. But it may also reflect a broader trend towards more regular and structured content.