Publishers turning to Podcasts

Everyone was talking about video, but publishers have quietly shifted to Podcasts too – growing audiences and ad revenue are tempting publishers to find the right recipe.

Liam Handford

Liam Handford

August 6th, 2019 | Reading Time: 3 mins

Just a year ago, the next frontier was still video, with publishers big and small embracing it at every opportunity. Video is easy for users to engage with, you can fit a lot into 3 minute video clip compared to your average digital article, and more importantly, it was their key to fostering a connection with millenials and younger generations.

This year something else has been stealing the spotlight – Podcasts, with some of the same promising metrics video saw, this time though, they’re not inflated by things like Facebook’s reporting, and they don’t carry the same cost, which has always been a barrier for video content. Not only are the number of listeners going up, but so is time spent listening and retention of listeners that come back for more.

podcast audience growth
Podcast Weekly Audience Growth in the UK as reported by Ofcom

Big hits such as The Daily run by The New York Times have helped spurn publishers into action, not only did it get spun off into a TV series, but also garnered numerous radio deals and an annual revenue over $10 million. There are numerous other success stories from publishers big and small alike, and more are coming to the table, realising that podcasts often provide a better monetisation option for ads than even video.

Over the past year it’s changed immensely to the point where the likes of The Telegraph and The Economist have even cut their video team in favour of podcasts. What was once primarily a new subscription driver, is now proving more and more to be a real revenue driver and a core product.

Why Podcasts?

It’s a growth space

While the audience size is low, with only one in four American adults listening to at least one podcast a month according to research from Edison, the ad revenue generated by them has doubled year on year, supported by both audience growth but also by brands that have come to realise the value. Audiobooks are also the fastest growing digital format, the overlap and potential for podcasts tie-ins and spin-offs isn’t lost on publishers.

podcast revenue
Podcast Ad Revenue as reported by The Interactive Advertising Bureau IAB –

Low cost

Compared to video, the resources needed to generate quality podcasts is small, making it more accessible for even niche publishers, and easier for larger publishers to consistently pump out content. Some of the most popular podcasts on iTunes have low production value, just two pundits with a sense of humour going back and forth can make for an entertaining listen.

As far as equipment, a cheap microphone and time is all that’s really needed. The investment in podcasts is in consistency,

Loyal audiences

User behaviour around Podcasts is also more closely compared to Netflix, than it is traditional text content, with users discovering what they enjoy and then binging it – So building up loyalty and a connection with users is easier than it is with your average reader.

Forbes report that podcast audiences listen to all or most of 80% of the podcasts they start, which is a massive metric considering the average length of podcasts being much longer than that of an article and most publishers video content.


In Summary, podcasts are cheap to produce, have a growing audience, and have shown deep retention. Podcasts can be produced for almost any industry, so for the little risk they offer, it may well be time to start experimenting if you haven’t already.

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