The Washington Post is rolling out its most ambitious effort in podcasting yet, joining the battle for the daily news podcast of record.
On Dec. 3, the Post is launching “Post Reports,” a new 20-minute daily news podcast that will publish every weekday at 5 p.m. The podcast is unique for The Post in that it’s the outlet’s first multi-part daily podcast. Each Post Reports episode will feature three segments, the first being the newsiest, followed by a deeper dive-type segment, then a third, lighter segment. A team of eight people is working full time on the podcast, including five new audio producers who were hired specifically for “The Post Reports.”
The Post has been thinking about a daily news podcast for almost a year and a half, said Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, the managing editor at the Post responsible for digital development. The Post’s podcasting team worked on a number of smaller projects, including “The Daily 202,” a podcast built around its successful Power Post newsletter, as well as subject-focused shows including “Can He Do That?” and “Presidential.” Another smaller daily podcast, “Retropod,” launched in February.
“The Post Reports” is entering a landscape of daily news podcasts that’s getting increasingly crowded. The New York Times’ “The Daily” leads the pack with 5 million downloads per month and eight-figure annual revenue, according to Vanity Fair. Other news publishers ranging from Vox to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation have entered into this area recently.
While the Post said that the producers will not be held to download targets, the Post’s sales team has big plans for Post Reports. It is estimating 1 million downloads per month to start, according to an advertising rate card shared with Digiday.
“News and news/talk radio programming has always been an advertiser’s best friend,” said Dan Granger, CEO of the podcast media agency Oxford Road.
Granger noted that the value proposition of daily news podcasts for advertisers is slightly different because they lack the long shelf life that a narrative nonfiction podcast might have. But they make up for it with abundant downloads: two of the five highest-downloaded shows last year were daily news podcasts, according to Podtrac data.
“The Post Reports” will get a big promotional push, including prominent placement on the home page from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. every day. The Post will also use house display ad inventory to promote episodes and will be featured in email newsletters and the publisher’s social channels.
That marketing push will broaden the reach, but Garcia-Ruiz said it’s especially important that the podcast reaches new and existing subscribers. Among other news publishers, the Financial Times has been using audio and podcasts to drive paid subscriptions.
“Subscribers are playing a much more important role in the success or failure of publishers,” Garcia-Ruiz said. “We want them listening to this podcast.”
One of the differentiators for “The Post Reports” is that it will publish in the late afternoon. It’s counting, at least partly, on weaker competition for its audience’s attention during that part of the day.
“We’re wrapping at the end of the day, not the beginning,” said Madhulika Sikka, executive producer on the Post’s audio team. “When you think about that part of the day, there is the cacophony of cable, but we’re a little different.”
Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Post is estimating 1 million downloads per episode, rather than per month.