When local governments, including my own state of Iowa, enacted business restrictions and companies asked employees to work from home I, like many other podcasters, thought my listener numbers would spike. Instead, I uploaded on Wednesday to see a massive dip in downloads. If you’re in the same boat, the reason why podcast numbers are down during Covid-19 is all about routine.
I made the assumption, and perhaps you did too, that people spending more time at home, meant they would have more idle time to consume content. But that assumption completely ignores how people listen and when. Understanding both are key.
In a zoom discussion today with members of a podcast association, many podcasters had seen similar traffic dip concerns. The generalized agreement eventually centered on one thing: Commuting and routine encourage podcast listening. Because these have been disrupted, so have podcast listens.
When and Why Do People Listen To Podcasts?
The data seems to re-enforce the same theory the association was already picking up on. Up to 37% of podcast traffic is due to our work and commuting habits. Breaking out that data, 22% of traffic is in a vehicle, 4% is while using public transit and 11% is at work. But while it’s true 49% of podcasting is at home, most of that traffic is 8am and 11pm, again suggesting a change in routine is to blame. People aren’t getting ready for work and bed the same way they were last week. But this isn’t the only reason podcast numbers are down during Covid-19. The other reason might be kids and food.
Kids and Food May Be Cutting Podcast Listens Down
A few members in the podcast association indicated that, even though they were working from home and not going out, their activity remained busy as kids remained home requiring attention and care. Listeners obviously have the same issues and some are even researching homeschooling methods and designing curriculum for their kids as well. (One member had a homeschooling blog and saw a spike in traffic.) But routine isn’t being disrupted just because of the kiddos. Food is also a reason podcast numbers are down during Covid-19.
Many people aren’t going out to dinner, choosing instead to stay home and cook, driving up the share price of companies like Blue Apron. Cooking is a great family activity, requires prep, and requires cleaning. This takes extra time, but what of podcasting? As far as I know, family meals aren’t eaten while listening to the latest episode of The EntreLeadership Podcast.
So, if you’re a podcaster, and fear the slump will continue, I urge you to keep creating. Americans and the rest of the world will get back into their routines soon, and when they do, they’ll be ready to catch up.