The shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been noted repeatedly, have led to a massive surge in streaming, as well as new subscriptions to streaming services. After all, everybody’s at home, often with their kids, and that’s led to a lot of households deciding to catch up on Netflix, Disney+ and other streaming services.
However, there’s another 21st century medium that’s seen a decline since the shelter-in-place orders began: Podcasts.
According to a weekly survey put out March 29 by Podtrac, “U.S. podcast downloads decreased 1% during the week ending March 15, 2020, 2% the week ending March 22, and 4% the week ending March 29 across all Podtrac measured podcasts.” Those numbers track with the progress of shelter-in-place orders being declared in more and more places.
It’s not hard to see why there’s less podcast listening going on. A lot of podcast fans typically listen either during their commute, while working out at the gym, or while they work during the day. Most people aren’t commuting anymore, a lot of gyms are closed, and listening to podcasts while working isn’t so easy to do, especially with family around.
In addition, some podcasts – though certainly not all – are on hiatus, with co-hosts that record in studios or in person no longer able to do so.
Podtrac also broke out download trends for different subjects, between the weeks ending March 22 and March 29. Not surprisingly, once again, downloads for podcasts dealing with sports, TV and film and education have all declined by more than ten percent. Sports are shut down nationwide, as are movie theaters, as well as schools. Business, science, and kids and family are all categories that have seen big gains.
Then again, the overall declines remain in the single digits, and year-to-date growth remains positive, which shows that podcasts remain resilient during the current crisis.
Per a report in WWD, the decline is expected to coincide with a decline in advertising as well.