In what may prove to be a pivotal moment in podcasting’s young history, listeners around the globe have been turning to the medium for information about the COVID-19 outbreak. No show has amassed more downloads so far than CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact Vs. Fiction hosted by CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. At last count it had more than a million downloads or streams and is a top five podcast based on Chartable’s ranking of Apple Podcasts.
Courtney Coupe, Vice President of CNN Digital Productions, offers her take on how they’re approach this “pop-up” podcast.
Podcast News Daily: What’s your approach to deciding what to include in a podcast that’s focused on such a fast-changing subject?
Courtney Coupe: The launch of this podcast is a prime example of how we are utilizing our audio team as an integral part of our comprehensive content and programming strategy covering the coronavirus. There clearly is a huge appetite for a wide variety of resources on the pandemic at the moment, and we’re making sure to deliver that information to our audience in ways that cater to the numerous ways they consume their news. The most important objective for this podcast is to be a calm, informative resource during a time when there is a lot of fear and confusion. And we want to make sure that we are providing answers and information, so we are actively asking for viewer questions. What do they want and need to know? How can CNN and Dr. Sanjay Gupta help them understand what they should be doing. Our approach is all about building that trust and calming fears with facts.
Podcast News Daily: The download numbers have been through the roof. What do you make of that?
Courtney Coupe: It just goes to show how invested our audience is in consuming reliable information about the coronavirus. And our launch metrics clearly show that. Within its first week, the podcast achieved one million downloads, along with hitting number 3 on Apple Podcast's US charts. We've discovered we have people listening to the show from all over the world, including Australia, Canada, the U.K., Germany, Japan, India, and South Africa. On Apple Podcasts, our listener rating is 4.5 out of 5. In a moment when fear can be an emotional contagion, our podcast is a clear-eyed, even-toned resource for facts for our worldwide audience—and the success we have had with it really speaks for itself. We’re very proud of it.
Podcast News Daily: Do you see the podcast as a piece of what CNN is offering on TV – or a standalone product? Is there something that a podcast can do that is tougher to accomplish on a format like TV?
Courtney Coupe: Television and podcast mediums certainly have their differences, but they very much can go hand-in-hand with each other when it comes to disseminating information. At the end of the day, we want to make sure that our audience has the information they need in as many formats as possible. What’s great about podcasting is that it is largely on-demand; listeners can choose when they want to listen, and how they make this coverage part of their daily routines.