How Podcasting Can Help Fight the Coronavirus

April 27, 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic is in the midst of causing a massive impact on the entire world. There’s really no need to get into the details about the Coronavirus in this article, as you probably already get enough news and advisory elsewhere. What we do want to address in this post, is how the podcasting world is affected by the Coronavirus, and how podcasts can help the world going through this crisis.

How is the podcasting eco-system affected by the virus?

First, let’s tackle the most interesting question for podcasters – how is this global crisis going to affect your podcasts? We do have a few theories around that, it’s still early to find reliable, raw data or statistics to back it up, so please take that into consideration – we’re merely sharing our own views in the majority of this post, but hey, it’s still worth something isn’t it?

It’s evident that the world is experiencing a massive crisis over the past few months. It could still be somewhat temporary, but on the other hand, it could also last for several more months. This means that the podcast listening habits are also quickly changing.

With many businesses around the globe shut-down (temporarily or permanently), many people stopped from going on their daily commute to work or other activities. According to Deloitte (in their research about audiobooks and podcasts), in 2019 “74 percent of […] listeners in the United States listened to them in their cars”.

This figure is slightly different in other sources; Statista is claiming that 64% are listening to podcasts in their car/truck, but they also suggest some additional figures for listening “while walking around”, “at work” and “while riding public transportation”. All of the above are definitely limited for the time being, and many people are avoiding any outdoors activity due to the Coronavirus.

podcasting stats coronavirus
Leading locations for listening to podcasts in the United States as of February 2019 (Source: Statista)

Assuming the number of commuters is massively decreasing day in and day out, your regular number of listeners/downloads could vary a lot these days. You may see a significant decrease in downloads week after week, however it is quite probable to assume your listeners would eventually come back after an adjustment period. While people are stuck at home, podcasting seems like a perfect way to pass the time and try to switch the focus away from the virus.

With that said, there could be some other side effects. People can, unfortunately, lose their jobs or worry about their health or their loved ones before getting back to listening to podcasts. We believe that as a whole, the overall podcast statistics could go back to around their normal rates, but this could take a little while. Many listeners can still listen to their favorite podcasts from home, and considering many people are isolated at home without too much to do, it’s safe to assume they could listen to podcasts as they did before.

According to Podnews, podcast downloads are down ~20% globally, but as said, it’s still early to make too many assumptions based on these figures.

Thus far, we talked about listeners, but this crisis can obviously affect creators as well. Some podcasters are recording at studios or together with other podcasters in the same room. This is rapidly changing too. Needless to say, many podcasters can probably be affected directly, and forced to decrease their publishing rate of new podcasts/content.

We’ve seen a pretty natural and obvious uptick in podcast episodes related to “Coronavirus” (> 10,000 episodes) and in new podcasts as well (~ 250 new shows) and these are definitely popular right now, considering it’s probably the top news topic around the entire world.

We won’t dive too deeply into speculations and the meanings of this crisis for the financial/economic world, but the slowdown of the market would definitely mean podcast ads or sponsorships may be decreasing in the near future. This can be risky for podcasters who rely on ads and sponsorships as their main source of income, so we would definitely recommend to anyone in the podcasting world to try and think this through to be ready, as much as possible, for a longer crisis.

Can podcasting save the world from Coronavirus?

Let’s be real, podcasting cannot save the world by itself, but it’s an important medium that is worth discussing. How can podcasting help, you may wonder – it’s hard to back this up, as mentioned earlier, with real facts and figures, but podcasting is one of the only mediums left that could be little affected by the virus.

Many types of mediums are going to struggle to produce new content. TV series, Movies and Live TV are all at a halt. This can have a long-term impact on giants like HBO, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, and all the other companies in the movie/TV field. It’s nearly impossible to produce new content, considering filming, casting, editing and so on are very limited (if not fully limited) these days.

Live sports are certainly affected as well, with most sports halting their leagues and waiting for the crisis to pass. The music industry can also experience a hard time recording or publishing new content as well, considering in many cases it would require musicians to gather in a small studio room. Traditional radio stations can still work, but only if the stations are prepared to work without too many people involved on-location. (Live internet radio can, however, work without too many restrictions.)

If this crisis lasts several more months, there could be a certain “lack” in new content published around the world. There could be a day when people simply had enough of browsing through the same Netflix menus while these media companies are surely having a hard time creating new content.

There are a few safe ways of creating new content while the Coronavirus is still going on – writing/publishing (news, blogs, books, articles and the likes) is definitely going to be the number one medium for the near future. Podcasting can come right after that.

We believe podcasting can evolve to be one of the most important mediums in the coming months. Podcasts can be easily recorded from home, and there are even a few companies/services offering collaboration tools to records episodes with multiple guests from different locations, so isolation is no problem there. The fact that podcasting is so easy to get into – makes it much more accessible to everyone to create new podcasts. The only real requirement for creating a decent podcast is having a microphone, and some even record directly from their laptop/phone, (even though it’s not recommended whatsoever, but can still work to a certain degree) so the barrier of entry is quite low.

Podcasts can definitely involve topics around the Coronavirus, as mentioned, such as news, general information, or health-related discussions. That said, podcasting has always been a medium where all different types of content are always welcome. There are countless podcasts discussing niche or even “micro niche” topics, from all corners of the globe. Any podcast can still easily grow its audience and create more and more content during this tough time, and that’s what makes podcasting so special now.

To conclude this part of our article, the fact that millions of people are currently in quarantine or staying at home, can be a massive opportunity for podcasts to step in and help people deal with an extended period of social isolation.

We hope that you’re safe and healthy while reading those lines. We can only wish for this global crisis to come to an end, as soon as possible. This article can, hopefully, motivate some podcasters in these tough times, and help keep our heads up.

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