06 Dec 2023

Media Network: Issue 8, 2023

Welcome to the Media Network bulletin, brought to you by MHP Group. Our unrivalled team of former journalists and media experts bring you the latest insights behind the headlines.

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Sky’s the limit for new podcast offer

By Keith Gladdis, former Daily Mail Executive News Editor 

We caught up with Priya Sahathevan and Liam Dolan from Sky News to discuss their new focus on podcasts and the opportunity for clients to engage with them.

Tell us about the podcast output from Sky News.

Priya: Sky News’ award-winning audio team delivers a broad podcast portfolio for audiences all year round, including the flagship Sky News Daily, Ian King Business and the ARIA-nominated ‘Open Secret’ and ‘Ukraine War Diaries’, as well as limited series such as ‘Queen Camilla: For the Love of Charles’ presented by Kay Burley ahead of the Coronation earlier this year.  

Our latest podcast launch, in partnership with POLITICO, is “Politics at Jack and Sam’s”.  Every Sunday, two of Britain’s best-connected political journalists – Sam Coates (Sky News’ Deputy Political Editor) and Jack Blanchard (POLITICO’s UK Editor), use their unique positions at the heart of Westminster to give listeners everything they need to know about the week ahead in British politics. 

Only a couple of months since launch, we have already heard that Cabinet Ministers are listening!  Going into an election year, we’re expecting audiences of news and politics podcasts to grow and because we’re impartial, those audiences will know they’ll get unbiased analysis from Sky News’ team of political experts.

How important are podcasts to Sky News

Liam: Podcasts are an important part of Sky News’ multi-platform news output, which is available free of charge to audiences and also includes our flagship TV channel, the Sky News app and website, as well as Sky News social channels. We’ve seen an explosion in audio consumption in the last four years – as of 2022 there were over 21 million podcast listeners in the UK, expected to grow by a further 7 million by 2026. We also know that the percentage of those intending to increase their podcast listens this year was ahead of linear media, such as listening to the radio or watching TV. We’ve seen that podcasts enable us to showcase our expert journalists and build a different kind of relationship with audiences. Podcast listeners tend to be more engaged and loyal than other forms of news media, and we regularly see consumption rates of 80%+ for our podcast episodes. 

In what capacity would Sky News podcasts feature businesses, such as MHP clients?

Priya: The Sky News Daily and Ian King Business podcasts regularly feature representatives from business, where relevant to the news agenda. Recent examples include Timothy Richards (Founder and CEO of VUE International) speaking on the future of cinema on the Sky News Daily and Nigel Newton (Chief Executive of Bloomsbury Publishing) featured on Ian King Business, regarding the boom of fantasy fiction. What we look for are people who can use their industry expertise to provide insight, analysis and context to the key news stories relevant to our audiences. 

What opportunities are there for clients to sponsor content?

Liam: Sponsors of Sky News podcasts have the opportunity to align their brand to Sky News’ premium editorial content, both within the audio portfolio and amplified across social channels via video and audio, for a highly receptive audience. Our data shows that 2.8m Sky News social users listen to podcasts and are 72% more likely than UK average to listen to more than one podcast per day. This places Sky in a distinctive position in the market being able to offer best-in-class editorial content to a large audience base, on a platform that suits them. Sky News social users are also 61% more likely than the UK average to agree with the statement that ‘ads in podcasts improve my perception of the brand’, and through host reads and sponsorships across audio, and branded content and video clip alignment on social, Sky can seamlessly integrate a brand’s message into the portfolio of shows, in a non-intrusive manner to the listener or viewer. 

Consumer health stories are the tonic for The Times as digital push continues

By James RollinsonJaber Mohamed, former reporter at The Mail on Sunday

Stories with a focus on everyday consumer health are proving popular with Times readers as we head into winter illness season, according to Health Correspondent Eleanor Hayward.

During a recent discussion with MHP, Eleanor made clear that stories which directly relate to consumer health habits and hacks are attracting good reader numbers. An example Eleanor gave was a recent piece she wrote about new research which showed that a daily glass of 100% fruit juice can help reduce blood pressure. And last weekend she wrote about the end of the boozy Christmas party as more people choose to drink less.

The success of these stories comes as The Times renews its push on digital. With readers increasingly complementing their paper readership with online subscriptions, Eleanor made clear that stories which show strong engagement through the app and website will always prove popular with editors.

Set piece features provide ample opportunities for leaders to have their voices heard

By Ellie McGarahan

Set piece business features are proving popular across national media titles, offering brands and their leaders an opportunity to share their views on a range of important topics.

Hannah Prevett, Deputy Editor of The Times Enterprise Network, is looking to interview founders of UK-based businesses for the paper’s “How I Made It Feature”. Candidates must have made sales of over £3m and have turned over a profit in the previous financial year in order to make the cut.

Jane Hamilton, The Times’ newly appointed Recruitment Editor (also Editor of The Sun’s long running ‘Sunemployment’ pages) is seeking pitches and commentary from “outspoken” CEOs for a new appointments column, running in print and online on Fridays.

With a raft of new hires, City A.M. has supercharged its content with lots of new, and some revived, feature opportunities. Chief City Reporter Charlie Conchie alongside newly appointed Business Reporter Jennifer Sieg, are on the lookout for pithy and punchy 100-word “snapshot” views on London and the Square Mile to feature on the publication’s new hub. As a daily feature, any commentary should provide a thought for the day, prediction, temperature check, data point or hot take.

The publication is also ramping up its YouTube channel content, putting out explainers, deep dives and video features on the issues currently dominating the City. Charlie and City A.M. News Editor Emmanuel Nwosu are welcoming pitches for suggested angles and interviewees.

Finally, Comment and Features Editor Sascha O’Sullivan and Feature Writer Lucy Kenningham have re-established “The Debate” – a weekly section which will cover one of the biggest questions of the day. Two people will go head-to-head putting their views forward, with the City A.M. comment desk deciding whose argument wins.

Daily Mail goes viral on TikTok

By Ian Kirby, Former Political Editor of The News of the World

The print edition of the Daily Mail, the newspaper of choice for Middle England, was always seen as the premier version of DMG’s news brands, but new data shows its TikTok channel has become the channel’s largest news publisher and a hit among under 25s.

Weekly TikTok videos by star columnist Boris Johnson, fast-paced news and showbiz coverage and extensive US and global content have attracted 7.2m followers, with a rise of 1500% in the last six months alone.

The success is a key part of the Mail’s strategy of owning the leading platform for every generation – print for older readers, MailOnline for online readers across the world and TikTok for younger viewers.

The shift to new social channels is becoming commercially imperative. Google updated its core algorithm earlier this year and half of Britain’s biggest news brands suffered falls in visibility, with Reach titles being among the biggest losers, including Leicestershire Live, the Daily Record and Lancashire Live. The sites which gained were GB News, HuffPo and The Spectator.

But the key challenge is how to make digital pay. Look out for a new form of subscription model being introduced to MailOnline in the new year.

Movers & Shakers

By Matthew Taylor

From North London to Washington DC

  • Sir William Lewis, chief executive of The News Movement, former editor at The Daily Telegraph and executive at News UK and Dow Jones, has been appointed chief executive and publisher of The Washington Post.

New joiners and promotions at City A.M.

  • Previously Deputy Digital Editor at MoneyWeek, Rupert Hargreaves has been appointed News Editor at the paper, alongside Emmanuel Nwosu, who joined earlier this month.
  • Maria Ward-Brennan was appointed Senior Reporter covering legal sector, she was formerly a Reporter at The Lawyer.
  • Rhodri Morgan, a former Policy Reporter at tes, has been appointed Energy & Commodities Reporter at City A.M. He replaces former Energy Editor, Nicholas Earl, who joined PoliticoEurope’s climate and energy team.

Money pages shake up

  • Gareth Corfield has changed beats at The Daily Telegraph, joining the money desk as a Money Writer. He was previously Senior Technology Reporter at the newspaper.
  • Long-term Editor at Shares Magazine, Daniel Coatsworth, has been appointed Editor-in-Chief at AJ Bell. He will continue to write ad-hoc for the publication and host the AJ Bell ‘Money & Markets’ podcast, while former Deputy Editor, Tom Sieber, has been promoted to Editor.

It’s all new in news

  • Katie Weston has been appointed Assistant Head of News at The Sun, joining from the Daily Mirror.
  • She replaces Alex Matthews, who has moved to become UK News Features Editor at the MailOnline.
  • Miriam Burrell is the new Assistant News Editor at The Evening Standard while Liam Coleman has taken on the same role at Metro, both having been promoted from previous reporting roles.

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