The vast majority of top-ranked podcasts do not focus primarily on news and current events: 15% of the podcasts examined in this study are focused on news. That said, news is a common part of the podcast experience for the majority of listeners – two-thirds of U.S. podcast listeners said in the 2022 survey that they had heard news discussed on podcasts in the last year.
There are several possible reasons for this, including that many podcasts that do not primarily focus on the news occasionally discuss news-related topics.
News-focused podcasts can be about a range of topics, including sports, entertainment and politics. Still, about half of these news-focused podcasts (49%) are about politics and government. These include podcasts like The Dan Bongino Show and The Kyle Kulinski Show, both of which feature commentary on daily political news.
At 29%, sports also is a common topic among news-focused podcasts, with podcasts from sports commentators such as The Bill Simmons Podcast, as well as some from athletes themselves, like The Draymond Green Show.
A substantial share of news-focused top podcasts (13%) are about multiple topics. These podcasts tend to cover different topics across their episodes, including The Ezra Klein Show and All-In with Chamath, Jason, Sacks & Friedberg.
Nearly one-in-five top-ranked podcasts are affiliated with a news organization
Another connection between podcasts and the news can come in the form of an affiliation with a news organization. About one-in-five top-ranked podcasts (18%) have this type of affiliation, including podcasts associated with NPR, The Wall Street Journal and The Ringer.
Not all podcasts published by news organizations are focused on news, but podcasts that do focus on news are more likely than other podcasts to be affiliated with news organizations (46% vs. 13%).
Podcasts about certain topics are more likely to have an affiliation with a news organization. Just under half of top podcasts focused on politics and government (44%) are affiliated with news organizations, as are 36% of those focused on sports. Self-help (8%) and entertainment (7%) podcasts are less likely to be connected to news organizations.
A recent Center survey found that 20% of podcast listeners say any of the podcasts they listen to are connected to a news organization – similar to the 18% of top podcasts with such a connection – but there also is also some uncertainty among listeners. Roughly the same percentage (21%) say they do not know whether the podcasts they listen to are connected to a news organization.
News-focused podcasts are far more likely than others to be structured around commentary
About half of top-ranked podcasts that focus on news (49%) are structured around commentary. These podcasts feature a host or hosts providing their analysis and opinion on current events, such as podcasts about politics like the Candace Owens podcast and sports podcasts like Slow News Day with Kevin Clark.
The next most common formats are deep reporting and interviews, which are each featured in 22% of news-focused top podcasts.
By contrast, the deep reporting format is the most common format for podcasts that are not about news (40%), followed by interview-centric podcasts at 23%. Commentary podcasts make up just 10% of podcasts that do not focus on news.
In addition, 63% of all news-focused top podcasts have a video component, making this more common than among other top-ranked podcasts (49%).
News podcasts tend to be longer, published more frequently than others
Overall, news-focused podcasts tend to be slightly longer than other top-ranked podcasts. About half of news-focused podcasts (49%) are about an hour or longer, compared with 35% of top-ranked podcasts that do not focus on news.
Podcasts that focus on news also tend to be produced more frequently. Roughly half of news-focused podcasts (54%) released episodes more than once a week on average during the study period, far greater than the share of podcasts that are not focused on news (15%). This includes 16% of news-focused podcasts that were released daily, compared with just 4% of other podcasts.
Top podcasts that do not focus on news were released less frequently: 83% were released weekly or less frequently in 2022, compared with 38% of news-focused podcasts.