What’s behind the never-ending rise of the politics podcast?

This week, former Shadow Chancellor turned Strictly star and Good Morning Britain presenter, Ed Balls, and former Chancellor turned funding banker and Chairman of the British Museum, George Osborne, are launching their new podcast, Political Forex. The previous rivals, who’ve developed an unlikely Abbott and Portillo model double-act on Channel 4’s The Andrew Neil Present, turn out to be the newest entrants into the already crowded subject of political podcasting. 

Main the best way are centrist-dad pairing Alistair Campbell and Rory Stewart, hosts of The Relaxation Is Politics and Main, with the previous usually putting on the high of Spotify’s podcast chart. In response to The Occasions, the pair are believed to earn round £70,000 a month for the podcast, whereas their reside reveals at The Royal Albert Corridor sell-out in minutes.

Sizzling on their heels is The Information Brokers, introduced by a triumvirate of former BBC journalists, Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall – once more reportedly incomes a fairly penny for his or her work. Competing for listens, the BBC has just lately expanded Newscast right into a seven-day-a-week providing. In the meantime, nearly each main information outlet from The Guardian to The Spectator gives their very own equal. 

Probably the most profitable are inclined to comply with an analogous format: two hosts, notionally on completely different sides of the political divide, however usually with giant areas of ideological overlap, dissect the week’s information in a peaceful, insightful, and typically amusing method. As Campbell and Stewart put it, they “disagree agreeably”.


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Credit score the place it’s due, two of the primary to succeed with this method had been LBC presenter Iain Dale and former House Secretary, Jacqui Smith, whose For The Many podcast stays required-listening – with reside reveals throughout the nation and, just lately, on the Edinburgh Fringe. The Two Matts, hosted by columnist Matthew D’Ancona and Matt Kelly, Editor-in-Chief of The New European, is a brand new entrant to the market that additionally delivers. 

However why are political podcasts out of the blue so common? And what does it inform us concerning the protection supplied by the remainder of the published media? The largest questions are for the established TV channels.

Lately, the BBC has cancelled reveals resembling The Sunday Politics and This Week, whereas Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg has already misplaced a 3rd of the viewers of its predecessor, The Andrew Marr Present. It’s not exhausting to see why. While Kuennsberg nonetheless does an honest job of interrogating the unlucky minister who’s been assigned the Sunday media spherical, the evaluation supplied by the panel is a sufferer to the constraints of the format: overly temporary and missing depth.

For those who actually needed to grasp what’s occurring in Westminster in 2023, would you be higher served watching a terrestrial political present, or listening to a podcast? The latter wins each time. 

Moreover, the fantastic thing about podcasts is that they’ve changed ‘broadcasting’ with ‘narrow-casting’ – figuring out a distinct segment and proudly owning it. What could be thought-about disappointing viewing figures for a flagship BBC politics programme represent good listening figures for a podcast, with an enormous potential for monetisation. Audiences may overlap. Most listeners to The Relaxation Is Politics in all probability dip into The Information Brokers, or Nick Robinson’s Political Pondering, or Steve Richards’ Rock & Roll Politics, and so forth.

With the mainstream TV broadcasters providing a diminished vary of political programming, podcasting is moving into the breach. For those who’re a political junkie who needs to take heed to a special politics podcast every day, you may. 

So good luck to Ed Balls and George Osborne. Little doubt there’ll be cynics who suppose they’re merely leaping onto an over-crowded bandwagon, however they’ll discover an viewers. Nevertheless miserable UK politics could also be in 2023, podcasting has enriched the best way it’s mentioned and analysed. I’ll definitely be streaming the primary episode of Political Forex.