Listeners flock to podcasts as COVID-19 bites

Listeners flock to podcasts as COVID-19 bites

As the global COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the globe, it appears more people are turning to podcasts for news and scientific information as much as a distraction.

Acast, one of the world’s largest podcast hosting and analytics companies, said new listening figures for March 21-22 saw a 7% increase in listens globally, equivalent to more than 750,000 podcast plays.

Although some categories experienced declines, podcasts in the education, entertainment, science, medicine and health genres were all up more than 10%.

Acast’s data, which will cover more than 10,000 podcasts, also shows a “continual increase” in the number of shows covering the coronavirus — with more than 1,400 podcast episodes now hosted on its network since Jan 22.

These episodes, which reference “corona” or “covid” in the episode title, have been downloaded more than 27.5 million times globally to date.

Acast, a Swedish start-up able to serve ads into podcasts, also said it is seeing an influx of new content overall, with creators and publishers turning to new means and ways of putting out episodes, such as remote recording or format changes.

The impact of coronavirus has, however, negatively impacted other genres. Acast said sport and recreation listening dropped -2% over the same period, in-line with a general decline in live sports globally.

However, other podcast networks operating in the sport market told Mediatel News the lack of sport represented a challenge, but they expect hosts to adapt.

“Sports podcasting has certainly been disrupted,” said Jim Salveson, head of Sport Social, whose Football Social Daily podcast was reported to have clocked up one million listens since the start of the 2019/20 football season.

“Not only is there a lack of subject matter to discuss, but the routines people built with their favourite shows have been disrupted.

“Whilst some podcasts will no doubt mothball their shows, those who continue to post content to their fans may well seem short-term drops but will almost certainly see long-term listener gains.”

Between 6 – 17 April Mediatel is hosting The Future of Audio – a free digital event to experience during lockdown. Click here for the full agenda, which includes live-streams, presentations and audio-themed editorial.

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