Home schooling hasn’t replaced all the hours that kids have since COVID-19 shut schools across America. What else are young people doing? Apparently they’re listening to more podcasts. PRX has released data showing it has seen an increase in both downloads and unique listeners for nearly all of its kid-targeted podcasts. PRX says early data shows an initial 55% increase in consumption of kids’ shows since the beginning of February. That includes both new episodes and those from the back catalog.
PRX may not be alone. Podtrac reported this week that through April 12, year-to-date downloads for podcasts in the Kids & Family category is up 17% compared with a year ago.
“Kids’ shows are not only holding steady in a time of uncertain podcast futures, but they are also growing in overall listenership,” PRX Chief Marketing Officer Donna Hardwick said in a blog post. “We recognize that it’s hard to establish a baseline for listening as both the landscape of podcasting and the world around us continues to change amidst COVID-19 developments. We are, however, very encouraged by what we’ve seen so far as an indicator of demand for kids’ podcasts.”
PRX says Six Minutes, the Gen-Z Media-produced podcast, saw a 70% increase in downloads. That coincided with the release of Remy’s Life, Interrupted – a daily series that tells the story of a 12-year-old fan of the show quarantined with her family in New Jersey. Hardwick said its success is based on the show providing ongoing daily entertainment for kids and families similarly spending time at home together.
The WGBH Boston-produced podcast Molly of Denali was released last year and hasn’t published a new episode since last July. Nevertheless, PRX says the show still saw a nearly 60% increase in downloads over the last few weeks. It’s a similar story for Young Ben Franklin, which last released episodes in 2018, yet saw a 92% increase in unique listeners.
The listening data is based on a six-week rolling average across PRX kids’ shows to account for variation in publishing schedules. That average was then compared with the most recent week of data to calculate percentage change.
Hardwick said the listener gains are a result of PRX taking an early lead in organizing its shows for easy browsing and listening by creating a kids’ podcast recommendation collection. In December PRX also announced it was creating Trax, a network of original podcasts for preteens and teens aged 9-13 bankrolled by a $1.6 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Trax will feature podcasts from Gen-Z Media, one of the top publishers of audio content for youth and their families, as well as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Cocotazo Media, members of the team behind Night Vale Presents, among other producers.
Time will tell whether gains will be sustained as kids return to school and life gets back to normal, but Hardwick is optimistic. “We see this unprecedented moment as an opportunity to develop new habits, especially around listening and screen-minimal activities,” she said.
Podtrac reported PRX was the No. 5 podcast publisher in March, with its 82 active shows delivering a unique U.S. audience of 9.1 million and more than 81million downloads.