01/31

New Radio Competition from the New York Times

Oh but so much more than that.

From MediaPost:

The New York Times will launch a new daily podcast hosted by Michael Barbaro called “The Daily.” The show, which is billed as “a reimagining of a daily audio report for a digital audience,” will debut on February 1. It will include a text messaging component and will be available on Alexa-enabled devices. Each 15-20 minute weekday show will publish at 6 a.m. and will focus on the news of the day, featuring two to four stories. BMW is the official launch sponsor of The Daily.

What? Another news podcast? Nothing special there, even with Alexa integration. But wait…

A unique element of this audio show is Barbaro, who will communicate with listeners via text message. He will “share context, analysis and thoughts” on the day’s news with readers via SMS, as well as “act as a personal guide” to the news. When you subscribe to his text messaging service, an automated text reply reads, “Michael Barbaro here from the NYT, ready to help you make sense of the news… More soon!”

In other words, this isn’t simply a podcast. Nor is it the equivalent of a daily audio briefing. Nor is it simply a service for SMS updates. It is a new connection leveraging multiple platforms between the NYT, its talent, and its current – and future – audience. It is a reimagining of how to build a bridge to a digital audience that directly taps into the ecosystem of the New York Times.From @NYTimes a new connection - listen up, #radio Click To Tweet

NYT isn’t seeing this as a podcast play or even an audio play. It’s a connection play designed to strengthen bonds between its consumers and its brands, leading to sponsor dollars and ultimately subscription dollars.

“Our readers have always turned to us first thing in the morning to help them understand the world. Now, with our new audio report, we’re able to explain the news in a whole new way,” stated Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times. “In text, reporters are just grey bylines that most people may not even notice. … But in audio, our reporters become personalities, your friends, your guides, and we think the loyalty that engenders will draw people deeper into the New York Times ecosystem,” Dolnick told Morning Media.

NYT recognizes all media as parts of its information and revenue ecosystem, not as separate distribution channels for one-way content.

This is a worldview that sees consumers first and leverages the strengths of the NYT. Note how this is different from asking the question: “We’re the NYT. How do we sell our stuff to more consumers?”

If you don’t think businesses across the audio space are in exactly the same boat, then you need to revise your own worldview. The NYT sees their reporters as “personalities, friends, guides.” How do you see the voices between your songs, Mr. Broadcaster? How do you see the voices that report your news?

And what have you “reimagined for a digital audience” lately?

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  • Hi Mark…it will be interesting to see how this plays out. I would think this is more competition for the newspaper rather than radio. If it’s produced 1x a day (newspaper), if it’s involved with in-depth coverage (newspaper), if it takes 15-20 minutes to get through it (newspaper), you’ve got an audio version of…..the newspaper. Appearing to do something “for the consumer” and putting “the consumer first” is shadowed somewhat by the statement…”we think the loyalty that engenders will draw people deeper into the New York Times ecosystem”. In other words “people will listen because WE’RE the New York Times and you’re not”. There is some self-serving and some blatant branding going on here as well. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. What we don’t know is what the “commercial” content will be for this. There has to be SOME to make this worthwhile.

  • Hi Dave, good arguments. But competition isn’t only about time, it’s also about attention. And if news by audio is what I’m seeking I would argue that all news podcasts compete with all radio broadcasts, regardless of their duration. It is absolutely self-serving, but it only works if it also serves the audience. To me, the introduction of the TXT angle and the personal interaction makes it in a different category.
    And remember that NYT doesn’t care whether they’re competing with their own paper or not. They only care to add new reasons for subscription.

  • Elizabeth

    Hi,Mark! I’ve already read a couple of articles here and I was wondering if I could make a suggestion? I think it would be great if you could add the year next to the date on time and byline. I just read the Rush article and I believe it was from 2016, but I’m not sure if this article is from last January or 2017. If it was from last year, I’d be interested in knowing how this all turned out.

    I also love and appreciate that you read AND respond to just about all of the comments. It shows you really care about the people who are reading your articles. I wish other writers/journalists would do that because I really believe it would force them to not only be better at editing, (can we agree that editing seems nonexistent these days and that their grammar skills are on par with a 9th grader?), but more importantly, they would be forced into to writing much more quality pieces.

  • I’ll consider that! Thanks Elizabeth!