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A new online survey of 985 podcast listeners shows a slight majority of respondents say on-demand audio is becoming a go-to for news. Media Monitors asked listeners aged 18+ in its recent Q2 Podcast Listener Survey about their news consumption habits and more than half (52%) agreed the medium has become a source of news and information in their daily lives. 

The big news event of the year – the coronavirus pandemic – seems to have contributed to the rise of podcasts as a news source. As the world changed in March, podcasters responded with series about COVID-19, several of which were published daily to cover the fast-moving story, as Americans looked for answers. 

The result is Media Monitors reports nearly half (45%) of those surveyed said those podcasts were either their “primary source” of information about the coronavirus pandemic, or that “podcasts help supplement other information sources” about the disease. To back up the impact of those timely shows, Media Monitors also reported that 23% of listeners using podcasts as a source for news about COVID-19 did not use podcasts as a source of need-to-know information prior to the pandemic.

In a separate question, two-thirds of all respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “Podcasting is a medium well-suited to provide important, detailed information in a timely manner” whereas only 13% disagreed.

“COVID-19 has had wide reaching impacts on all aspects of media consumption. In podcasting, it has led to a significant increase in willingness to consume need-to-know information from a less mainstream source. This shift in consumption seems likely to be cemented by the sentiment that podcasts are trustworthy and reliable sources of information,” said Media Monitors in an update released Tuesday.

Its data showed only 3% of respondents listed podcasts as less trustworthy than other media, while 60% said podcasts were either “more” or “much more” trustworthy compared to traditional media coverage of the pandemic.

 

 

Beyond just how COVID-19 has changed media habits, the rise of the daily news podcast may also be helping the trustworthiness scale of the medium. One in five of those surveyed said podcasts are among their primary sources of information. And a quarter said podcasts now supplement the other news outlets they consume. 

“The past few years have seen some of the most tumultuous news stories any of us have ever lived through, and our podcasts have really tried to seize the moment,” said Sam Dolnick, Assistant Managing Editor at The New York Times, where The Daily has topped Podtrac’s monthly ranker month after month. “We’ve been kind of surprised and delighted that audio and print complement each other really well. The acres of reporting that goes into big print stories is hugely valuable to mine for audio,” he told Podcast News Daily last week.

News is not why everyone listens to podcasts of course. Media Monitors said a third of the people it surveyed said they only listen to shows as a form of entertainment.

The Media Monitors Podcast Listener survey was fielded from June 15-26.. Participants aged 18+ were screened on whether they had listened to a podcast in the last 7 days, then asked to list the podcast titles. The survey was conducted by Opinion Access using an online panel and was designed to be geographically representative of the U.S. population.