In 2015, students at what is now the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism set out to solve various problems in Spanish-language podcasting. The most important of the problems they identified: A lack of community for independent podcasts to grow their audience and build sustainable revenue streams.
Co-founder Ana Ormachea, Luis QuevedoPablo Juanarena and Angel Jimenez launched Cuonda, a podcasting platform that helps Spanish-language podcasts get standardized metrics for their shows to secure sponsorship and cross-promotion deals.
Seven years later, Ormachea is Chief Digital Officer at Prisa Radio, responsible for the audio-first strategy of the world’s largest Spanish-language audio production company. Prisa Radio is a wing of Prisa, a Spanish media conglomerate that also owns daily newspaper El País, sports daily AS, news channel Cadena SER, El HuffPost and Podium, a platform which, like Cuonda, supports podcasts by helping them advertise find deals and earnings.
Those investments in Spanish language audio are beginning to pay off. Daily news podcasts are gaining ground in Spain, according to a new analysis of the country’s audio landscape.
Researchers from Spain’s Miguel Hernández University of Elche in Spain looked at the top 14 daily original news podcasts on Spanish podcast discovery platform iVoox and Apple Podcasts. Of the 14, 10 are produced by Spanish news agencies such as El País, El Mundo, El Diario and Cadena SER. The remaining four are produced by independent podcasters.
In Spain, 41% of the population said they will listen to a podcast at least once a month in 2021. Spanish media outlets first started daily news podcasts and released short news bulletins for smart speakers in 2018, according to the report’s authors – Miguel Carvajal, Cristian Ramón Marín Sanchizand Carlos J Navas – write. In recent years, the country’s mainstream news outlets have launched more in-depth news podcasts, following in the footsteps of shows such as The New York Times’ The Daily and The Guardian’s Today in Focus. For each podcast, the researchers surveyed the founders, makers, or hosts and asked them about their business models.
“Finding the product/market is more important than creating a big production in terms of sound design and script,” Marín Sanchiz told me in an email, adding, “If you’re trying to get users to To build a habit, it’s important to intertwine the podcast with your routines…it’s a format that rewards a bit of journalistic intuition, as it’s almost impossible to create podcasts that just fit searches and platform algorithms.”
The report doesn’t formally compare Spanish news podcasts to those from other countries, but Carvajal said half of the podcasts – including those produced by legacy news organizations – were edited by only one person. The El País podcast team is the largest and an outlier in the sample, with 10 people working on their daily Hoy en El País podcast. Eight of the 14 podcasts in the study were launched between 2021 and 2022, mostly by mainstream outlets that were either launching or transforming their subscription businesses.
“The podcast sphere in Spain was [historically] shaped by pioneers outside of the media industry, mostly niche-focused entrepreneurs, monetization has always been [an afterthought]’ Carvajal told me in an email. “On the distribution side, Apple Podcasts never had the clout that it did in countries like the United States because of the low usage of Apple products… It wasn’t until Podium and Cuonda came out that there was an explosion of journalistic, narrative podcasts. The serial phenomenon, the [success of] Daily news podcasts in the United States and United Kingdom and growth in podcast consumption in Spain woke journalistic producers.”
Audiences varied widely between the 14 podcasts, and the researchers found that survey participants had a “negative opinion” of the tools and data available to understand podcast audiences (although this is not a specific issue in Spain). However, the producers of the independent podcasts indicated that their audiences are broadly comparable to those of the major news outlet podcasts.
“The daily news podcasts in international media tend to cover immediate, current events, but they also cover long-term or evergreen issues,” Carvajal said. “In that sense, they’re similar to the niche podcasts we’ve selected that cover topics relevant to their communities.”
Marketing Online, a niche podcast about the marketing industry started in 2014 by Joan Boludareported 65,000 listens per episode, while Hoy en El País by El País (launched in 2022) and La ContraCrónica by an independent journalist and creator Fernando Diaz Villanueva (launched 2016) each reported 50,000 listens per episode.
The study reveals that podcasters have different goals for entering the audio industry: large media companies focus on building trust and personal relationships with listeners and reaching new audiences, while independent creators are more focused on carving out space in their niche sustainable way.
All are interested and focused on audience and business growth and sustainability, although revenue data was not included in the study. So far, podcasts have been helpful to national newspapers because they bolster their subscription offerings and create new revenue streams, primarily through sponsorships and advertising. Independent podcasts have more diversified revenue streams that include sponsorships, programmatic advertising, and business services, among others. For example, Mixx.io, a daily newsletter and podcast about technology that partners with Cuonda, reported €45,000 in annual revenue from sponsorships, while La ContraCrónica has 3,000 patrons on Patreon, in addition to revenue from advertising, affiliate links and sales of Were.
You can read the full study here.