Election podcasts will be part of existing shows, not new launches, says news expert

“I don’t think we’re going to see special election podcasts”, says Reuters researcher Nic Newman

Publishers planning their coverage of the next general election should focus on using their current podcast audiences, according to Reuters senior research associate and founding member of the BBC News website Nic Newman, rather than creating special election podcasts.

In the latest episode of PodPod, Newman spoke about trends that audiences can expect to see when it comes to news podcasts covering the election, explaining that while news podcasts such as Newscast and The Daily started as dedicated election podcasts, the industry has evolved into something bigger, and the challenge is to keep creating content for existing audiences rather than trying to build new ones. 

“It's different now, because we have these vehicles which have audiences already,” said Newman. “I don't think we're going to see special election podcasts, because launching new podcasts and building audiences for it is really hard now, in a way that it wasn't five years ago.” 

Newman believes news podcasts can continue to cater to their existing audiences with election coverage by increasing the frequency of episodes and using video to create snippets which can be posted across social media in order to reach new audiences. News podcasts such as Global and Persephonica’s The News Agents already use video across social media and have seen success with over 140,000 followers on TikTok. 

“One of the most interesting trends in the last few years is the way in which particularly conversational podcasts are now filmed and the moments of outrage or when an interviewee says something particularly interesting, those are then used virally through social media,” said Newman, “either to attract people to the audio or to create a completely different audience through a different channel.” 

Newman also emphasised that although video can be a powerful marketing tool for news podcasters and he thinks it will become even more important over time, publishers must focus on producing a “great audio product” first and focusing on the content before thinking of the visual aspects. 

As part of his work for Reuters, Newman has researched and written about the rise in news podcasts and trends within that space as part of the Reuters’ Digital News Report 2023 and the annual Journalism, Media, and Technology Trends and Predictions 2023 report. He believes that news podcasts will continue to grow in the future with more publishers coming into the space, more focus on video and specific niches - as audiences have already started to see with the rise of financial news and economics podcasts - and more integrations of AI in daily briefing podcasts. 

Daily news podcast The Smart 7 recently tested the use of AI in its podcast by fooling audiences with an AI voiceover clone of Jamie East for an entire week before making the reveal on social media. 

“I think audio is going to remain incredibly important and will actually become more important,” said Newman. “I would expect podcasting to grow. I would expect news podcasting to grow. I think more creativity, innovation, bigger names, and more niches.”