People Don't Even Listen to Podcasts Anymore

Kyle Koster
Podcasts in trouble.
Podcasts in trouble. / Huw Fairclough/Getty Images
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The ripple effects of coronavirus are far-reaching and plainly terrifying. Every new day brings another sobering reminder of the economic impact rubbing salt in the still-fresh health wounds. Multiple media outlets have already announced significant staff and salary reductions. And the one life preserver propping up revenue is not being spared.

Yes, COVID-19 is bringing with it a precipitous drop in podcast consumption.

"Downloads in the space overall have dropped about 10 percent since the start of March, according to data from Podtrac, which follows trends and usage in the space. Total unique listeners also dropped roughly 20 percent in the same time frame. "

The cause and effect here is clear: No commuting and reduced alone time results in less listening. There's also the base human feeling of malaise and dread that make escapism and frivolity a forgotten luxury.

Podtrac reveals true crime pods are down a staggering 30 percent, comedy 15 percent, and sports 13.

The market for ancillary content unrelated to the global pandemic is shrinking. There's also a dearth of material to work with, even if people were interested. Chicken, meet egg.

With outlets studying the charts and realizing the only real way to make money online is through the earholes, this is yet another body-blow. Podcast advertising revenue is propping up other arms of production in so many places. Those advertisers are dropping like flies and, well, the handwriting on the wall goes from 48-point to 96.

Commuting en masse will not be re-entering American life for at least a month. It may not be the routine for a lot longer than that. Sadly, millions upon millions of newly-unemployed workers won't have a place to go anymore.

There's a small hope new habits can be developed as everyone grows accustomed to the new reality, but one shouldn't bank on it.

Rough, rough times ahead.

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