We’ve got a lot on the docket, so I’ll keep it brief. Today: Meghan Markle takes a break from her hit podcast during the royal mourning period, Brookings breaks down the political podcast ecosystem, and some exciting announcements about our upcoming Hot Pod Summit in LA.
Hot Pod Summit LA will feature guests from Spotify, Crooked Media, Team Coco, and more
Hot Pod Summit in LA is less than two months away, and we’ve been putting together a killer lineup. I am really excited about who we have so far, and I hope you will be, too! Summit headliners include:
- Pod Save America host and Crooked Media founder Tommy Vietor
- Spotify’s head of talk studios, Julie McNamara
- Pushkin Industries’ head of TV and film development, Meghna Rao
- A trio from Team Coco, including president Adam Sachs and Inside Conan hosts Jessie Gaskell and Mike Sweeney.
- Vulture podcast critic and Hot Pod founder Nick Quah
I’m looking forward to digging into the evolving relationship between Hollywood and the podcasting industry. The summit will take place on November 3rd at KCRW, and we’ll announce more programming info as it becomes available. The invite-only event is being held in collaboration with work x work and On Air Fest’s LA Annex, which runs from November 3rd to 5th, and is being co-presented by KCRW, Audible, and Patreon. You can learn more about On Air LA Annex programming and get tickets here.
Summit invites will be going out this week, and we plan to hold a ticket lottery for additional seats next week — stay tuned for details!
Meghan Markle pauses podcast in wake of Queen Elizabeth’s death
In observance of the official mourning period for Queen Elizabeth II, which will end on September 20th, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, is putting her podcast on hold. Archetypes, which debuted at number one on Spotify’s podcast chart three weeks ago, is perhaps Spotify’s biggest homegrown talk show to date. It still sits at number two on Spotify’s podcast chart behind The Joe Rogan Experience.
If the podcast’s current charting is any indication, a two-week break shouldn’t make much of a dent in its listenership. If anything, there could be a surge of listening when it resumes. Royal-adjacent entertainment has gotten a boost in the past several days, with Netflix experiencing an 800 percent increase in viewership for The Crown.
The tabloid coverage of Archetypes also only raises its profile. Reports (true or not) that the palace takes umbrage with Markle’s accounting of events and that King Charles is asking Prince Harry to cancel the show altogether are going to bring in listeners hoping for candid anecdotes about royal life (which, to be fair, Markle has been dutifully providing). We’ll have to see whether Queen Elizabeth’s death will be off-limits.
Twitter expands new podcast feature to more users
As I reported in August, Twitter is rolling out a new podcast playlist function within its Spaces tab. Initially introduced only to a handful of testers across the world, it is now available to Twitter Blue subscribers who use iOS.
The feature sits at the top of the Spaces page, and it is pretty unlike other major podcast platforms. Instead of a library from which listeners can pick and choose shows, Twitter creates individualized playlists drawing from all of RSS and its own Spaces conversations. It’s a new approach to the discovery issue, and Twitter already has one factor in its favor — lots and lots of data on what users like.
Twitter Blue users, who pay $4.99 per month for perks like undoing tweets and custom interfaces, get access to experimental features. It should widen the test pool and increase feedback on the new product, which will help Twitter tweak the final version. If you are a Twitter Blue user with thoughts on the new feature, let me know what you think!
Brookings data reveals that conservatives dominate political podcasts
Brookings has put together a new data tracker for popular political podcasts, and so far, the conservatives have it. Among the podcasts included (which are limited to those that were in Apple’s top 100 in November 2020 or April 2021 or recommended in the “You Might Like” section for any of those shows), conservative-leaning shows currently pump out three times as many episodes as liberal-leaning shows.
On one hand, this is in pretty stark contrast to the findings by Edison and Sounds Profitable that podcasters skew liberal. But those liberal creators are not necessarily making political shows — they just weave their sensibilities into other genres. Meanwhile, there is a long tradition of right-wing talk radio, which the left has never been able to emulate at scale. It makes sense that conservative political podcasts would thrive, especially by hosts who are too extreme for mainstream media, like Steve Bannon.
It is worth noting that total number of episodes does not automatically correlate with listening, which the data does not track. But charts have repeatedly revealed that there are just more popular right-wing podcasts than liberal ones.
The tracker’s weekly analysis also reveals the top words used among the shows. Unsurprisingly, liberal hosts love talking about Trump, judges, and Mar-a-Lago, while conservative shows have been discussing Biden, America, and the queen. And if there is a particular word or topic you want to track yourself, you can create your own graph using the data.
I appreciate that Brookings is taking podcasting seriously for its influence on political discourse. This is a really useful new tool and a deep look into the sometimes-murky world of political podcasts.
Have a chill week. I’ll be back next Tuesday.