As more and more people move to remote work and increased social distancing measures, people’s behaviours are changing significantly.
For some, the changes are good. Communication platforms, like Microsoft Teams and Skype, as well as Slack and video conferencing services like Duo have seen massive upticks in use. These shifts are fueled by people working remotely or using these tools to keep in touch with friends and family.
However, not all behavioural changes are good. Podcasts, for example, are suffering thanks to changes caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. One might think the opposite would be true — if people have more time on their hands, they’d listen to more podcasts. But data from Podtrac, as reported by The New Consumer, shows the opposite.
Podtrac, which analyzes podcasts publisher data, shows U.S. podcast audiences are down 10 percent over the last two weeks.
Further, The New Consumer reports that Marco Arment, the developer behind popular iOS podcast app Overcast, saw a 20 percent drop in user sessions for his app. Arment cited Apple’s analytics and noted that weekend usage seemed unchanged.
While the data doesn’t address Canadian podcast fans, podcast audiences are likely down here as well. For myself, I’ve listened to maybe two or three podcasts since transitioning to working remotely in the second week of March. Usually, I’d listen to one or two podcasts a day while commuting to and from the office.
Other podcast listeners at MobileSyrup said they were listening to fewer casts while their viewership of streaming services like Netflix was up. On the other hand, MobileSyrup managing editor Patrick O’Rourke said his podcast listening was up, in part because he played episodes in the background while gaming or doing tasks around his house.
Although podcast listening as a whole is down, not all types of podcasts are. The New Consumer notes that news podcasts have grown alongside the pandemic, while other genres like comedy, sports and true crime have dipped.
What’s most interesting about the data is seeing how much something like podcasts depends on people’s routines. Likely, many people listen to podcasts while commuting and, with a significant increase in remote work, people don’t have their commutes to listen to podcasts anymore. It remains to be seen if the trend continues, or if people find new time to listen to podcasts again.