Impeachment fever has gripped news publishers — and, this being 2019, that means pop-up email newsletters and podcasts.
In the past month alone, The New York Times and CNN have launched standalone newsletters dedicated to covering the investigation. In podcasting, NBC News, Vox Media and WNYC Studios have all launched podcasts focused on the topic as well; CNN also rebranded its Daily DC podcast as Daily DC: Impeachment Watch on Oct. 4.
Some of these products have already gathered substantial audiences. CNN’s Impeachment Watch newsletter, for example, gained over 40,000 subscribers in the first 10 days of launch, and its podcast, in the two weeks that have passed since the rebranding from Daily DC, has gathered up 3 million downloads. The New York Times’s Impeachment Briefing, which launched as a standalone newsletter Oct. 1, has ranked among the most-read things published by the Times every day it has come out, said Adam Pasick, editorial director of newsletters for the Times.
While most of the shows are being put together out of original content, some are being assembled out of material that exists elsewhere. WNYC’s show, Impeachment: A Daily Podcast, is assembled using excerpts from The Brian Lehrer Show, which airs weekdays on WNYC.
That hasn’t dimmed interest. Downloads of Impeachment: A Daily Podcast are moving at twice the rate of downloads for “The Brian Lehrer Show,” a spokesperson said.
The impeachment mania mirrors the Trump craze that hit shortly after the 2016 election when publishers ranging from Mic to Slate launched Trump-specific newsletters and site verticals.
But like those products, impeachment newsletters and podcasts will likely be difficult to monetize. Of the impeachment podcasts out there, just one, Daily DC: Impeachment Watch, carries ads, and those are sold as part of WarnerMedia’s podcast network, rather than as part of a direct buy.
“This is far more catering to the consumer than it is catering to the advertiser,” said Stephen Smyk, the svp of podcasting and influencers at media agency Veritone One, who added that he was surprised by the number of impeachment podcasts that have materialized in the past month. “What some of our clients say is, ‘There’s being on political content, and there’s being on political commentary.’ They’ll do news, but not commentary, and this hedges into that [latter] area.”