They’re entering a crowded and highly competitive market. They know it. But the team at PoliticsHome are hoping that fans of other UK political podcasts will download and listen to their “chatty and authoritative” offering too.
The outlet, owned by the company formerly known as Dods (now London-listed Merit Group), launched The Rundown at the start of March. The podcast is hosted by rugby-loving chief reporter Alain Tolhurst and produced by Podot. Tolhurst told FN that he wants to provide a friendly, yet potentially scoopy chat each week, with an external guest always joining the show.
Last week that was Former Justice Secretary Robert Buckland and the prior week ex-Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green was in the hot seat. News Editor Laura Silver, who also edits The Rundown, explained that PoliticsHome had conducted market research before launching the show, indicating that the outlet’s audience wanted such a product.
“People who are already listening to politics podcasts are probably keen to get that extra insight and explain through the weeds of [Westminster] politics - not everybody is sitting on politics Twitter everyday,” she said. “That is one of the reasons why we’re doing it at the end of the week as a look back at that week’s events.”
The team aren’t giving away any audience numbers – it’s early days yet - but The Rundown launched onto PoliticsHome’s podcast channels which already had around 6,000 subscribers. However, across all of the outlet’s platforms, including The House Magazine, they reach up to a million readers a month.
Tolhurst and Silver haven’t ruled out video, but since it is a “heavy resource” the concentration is very much on podcasts at the moment to create a “360 experience”, pulling all of Politics Home’s reporting into one place.
“We write-up stories from the podcast, so it’s interlinked with the digital offering, including referring back to our own reporting,” Tolhurst said. As Silver puts it, the “gold standard” for PoliticsHome remains the same – to set the news agenda and break news stories. Or, in other words, engagement over traffic.
But with the podcast bringing PoliticsHome’s digital offering together, where does that leave print, especially The House Magazine? “Print absolutely has a future, the magazine is incredibly profitable for us,” Silver stressed. “Editorially, our print and various digital platforms work to compliment each other.
“Longer form features and interviews work especially well in print alongside high-quality professional photography, and those stories typically breed news stories for PoliticsHome, or discussion topics for the podcast, where shorter, snappier news hits harder.”
Either way, the British political podcast beat just got a little bit more competitive.