View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Podcasts
March 15, 2024

‘Not a podcast app’: New York Times Audio exceeds one million downloads

The app is only available to New York Times news and all-access subscribers.

By Bron Maher

The New York Times’ subscription-only NYT Audio app received more than a million downloads in the seven months between its launch in May and the end of 2023.

Across the 2,300 audio recordings The New York Times published in 2023, it says it saw an average of 110 million monthly downloads in 2023 – and that more than 600 Times reporters have now contributed pieces to its audio portfolio, equivalent to more than a third of its 1,700-odd journalists.

The New York Times’ flagship daily podcast, The Daily, is already the most popular news podcast in the US and the third most popular podcast overall, according to Edison Research.

However the NYT Audio app, which requires a New York Times news or “all access” subscription to log in, was billed at launch as a way for the publisher to expand beyond its success and “get every second of your day”. Commercially, the app appears to be primarily an enhancement to help grow and retain the title’s more than ten million subscribers.

But New York Times head of audio Paula Szuchman told Press Gazette NYT Audio shouldn’t be thought of as a podcast app.

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

[Read more: How The Daily podcast is helping the New York Times drive advertising and subscription growth]

Content from our partners
MHP Group's 30 To Watch awards for young journalists open for entries
How PA Media is helping newspapers make the digital transition
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it

NYT Audio and ‘Reporter Reads’

“If you think of a podcast app, it basically has everything in the world…” Szuchman said. “It’s a library of shows and you search by category and topic.”

NYT Audio, she said, is instead “an app that has our podcasts… but also has individual stories untethered to shows”, as well as a curated daily playlist.

The app brings together both The New York Times’ podcast series, for example The Daily and Modern Love, with standalone audio journalism – in particular its “Reporter Reads” in which journalists read their stories aloud, sometimes alongside commentary on the reporting process.

NYT Audio also hosts some exclusive content, such as a podcast named The Headlines which is intended as a sister show to The Daily.

“We had a lot of feedback from listeners with The Daily that after they listened to The Daily they wanted the rest of the news,” Szuchman said. “They wanted a complete diet.”

Whereas The Daily spends approximately 20 minutes exploring a single story each day, The Headlines spotlights three or so stories over ten minutes, once again bringing reporters into the studio to speak about their coverage.

“The Daily is one big story a day, five days a week,” Szuchman said. “It can’t hold all of what The New York Times can hold, nor should it.”

Szuchman said that “the way The New York Times has approached audio from the start has been very much [as] part of the core strategy of the journalistic efforts of our newsroom, as opposed to a side project”.

The decision to launch a dedicated audio app was an attempt to “take advantage of our competitive advantage, which is our newsroom… we started thinking: if we built our own app, our own listening destination, what do we think we can offer that’s distinct, that brings Times journalism to the forefront, that can be habit-forming?”

Szuchman said the app’s curated playlist is “the go-to thing” around which users have formed those habits. On Thursday this week, the playlist consisted of an episode of The Headlines, followed by an episode of the NYT’s 2024 election podcast The Run-Up, the latest Daily episode (on “peak millennials”) and a contribution from its audio culture desk, titled “Five minutes to love jazz flute (just like André 3000)”.

“There is a little bit of old-timey radio stuff,” Szuchman said, “in the sense that at the end of The Headlines, they say: ‘next up on The New York Times Audio, The Daily’ – which is something we’d never be able to do otherwise.” 

Once one finishes with the playlist there are more curated bundles of Reporter Reads, podcast episodes and some audio offerings from partner newsrooms like Propublica, This American Life and New York Magazine, as well as NYT properties The Athletic and Serial.

“I think, if you’re a Times lover, you’re like: ‘Oh, my God, I can hang out with all these people, and put it in my pocket and have The New York Times with me everywhere’,” Szuchman said.

The New York Times is not the first publisher to try and move its audio audiences from third-party platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify onto its own services: BBC Sounds has been performing a similar role for the public broadcaster since 2018.

Asked which sort of New York Times stories tend to do better in audio, she was hard-pressed to identify any particular subject.

“We do find that stories that centre the reporter and the reporter’s expertise do really well – when they can hear the humanity of the person. But I wouldn’t say that, like, topic A does better than topic B. It’s really more about the execution.”

Topics in this article :

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network