Podcasting Affected by Coronavirus-Related Audience Dip

True crime podcasts were the most affected

Has social isolation prompted you to cut down on your podcast listening?
Fletcher6/Creative Commons

When do people catch up on their favorite podcasts? If a new report from WWD is to be believed, it’s fair to say that commutes are a prime time for podcast listening. So what happens when you’re socially isolating and your commute is from room to room within the same residence rather than in a car or on public transportation? If your answer is that podcast audience numbers might suffer a bit, you would be correct.

Writing at WWD, Kali Hays explores this phenomenon in depth, noting that these numbers began to drop significantly around March 9:

Downloads in the space overall have dropped about 10 percent since the start of March, according to data from Podtrac, which follows trends and usage in the space. Total unique listeners also dropped roughly 20 percent in the same time frame.

Podtrac’s data also features metrics on a topic-by-topic level. There too, the results are about what you’d expect. “Each topic saw a decrease in listeners since March 9,” Hays writes, “although the news category only saw a dip of 10 percent, making it by far still the most listened to subject.”

While news podcasts have been the least affected, what’s been the most affected? True crime podcasts, which have seen their audiences drop by around 30% since earlier this month. Mind you, it’s not like people aren’t partaking of true crime narratives during their social isolation. The popularity of shows like Tiger King is evidence enough of this. But it’s interesting to see how this particular moment of crisis has shifted listening habits — and what that could mean for the future of podcasting.

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