It’s not only screen time that has risen during lockdown – people are listening to more radio and to more podcasts, and more people are showing interest in making podcasts.

At the recent Mediatel Future of Audio digital conference, representatives from Acast, Bauer Media and News UK all testified to record listening weeks since the UK went into lockdown; Acast also reported a 49% month-on-month increase in the number of people wanting to create new podcasts.

In that sense, it’s an auspicious time for News UK to have launched Stories of Our Times, the flagship podcast for the UK’s oldest national daily newspaper and for it to be pushing ahead with a summer launch of Times Radio (yesterday morning it announced another wave of high-profile signings, including Aasmah Mir, formerly of the BBC and Cathy Newman from Channel 4 News).

Stories of Our Times has “chimed” with audiences, Jimmy Buckland, director of strategy at Wireless, the division supporting publisher News UK’s growth in radio and audio, said during a panel session at the conference.

For those people wanting “rational, objective, not sensationalised but informative insight, and some really fresh storytelling and really engaging human interest stories”, audio is well placed, he argued.

It can tell those stories and provide engaging content “that takes you deeper into the news without leaving you quite as worn out as [when] you graze headlines on social media and all those daily reactions”.

And it feels like there’s more of those than ever as people take to Twitter, Facebook and the rest to discuss the coronavirus and life under lockdown.

Meanwhile, lockdown has changed listening patterns: in-car radio, for example, has plummeted but Bauer has observed a sharp rise in listening via connected devices; and with fewer people commuting, more people are listening to podcasts during normal working hours. (For more, read WARC’s report: How audio is responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown.)

Subject matter too has shifted: unsurprisingly, fewer people are listening to sports-related podcasts at this time. But Leo Goldingham, key account director at Acast, reports that “those listeners aren’t going anywhere: instead of listening to sport, they’re just moving over to science and medicine, news, current affairs, comedy – all of these shows are seeing great spikes in listening”.

It seems that people have rapidly settled into a “new groove”; the big question, of course, is how much of this change will stick post-lockdown.

Sourced from WARC