There are many things to learn from the iconic series that was launched in 2017.

Do you listen to podcasts? Have you taken the time to familiarize yourself with the format and apps for listening to it?

If so, did you listen to The Daily with Michael Barbaro‘s voice? With now over 1,700 podcast episodes in the series, I’m sure you’ve at least listened to one?

I recommend you do all of this. Strongly.

This notion of listening to “radio”, but on demand, is nothing new all these years later. It is at the heart of what makes podcasts so interesting. And there is an entire podcast industry behind it of course.

What are recent podcasting statistics?

In the United States, in 2017, 40% of people aged 12 and older said they had listened to a podcast, a rapidly growing indicator. For example, the average weekly number of users downloading a podcast from NPR (National Public Radio) rose from 2M to 5.4M between 2014 and 2017!

By 2022, 79% of the adult population in North America was aware of podcasting. It is estimated that by 2024, podcasts will have over 100M listeners in the USA., and closer to home, nearly 38% of Canadians have said having listened to a podcast in the last 30 days (2021).

NPR is a prominent US publisher with 18 million monthly listeners. Its content blends entertainment and practical knowledge, making it popular globally with hundreds of millions of unique streams and downloads each month. Notably, NPR’s most popular podcasts are NPR Politics Podcast, TED Radio Hour, Planet Money, and Fresh Air. However, in 2022, iHeartPodcasts and Wondery surpassed NPR as the most popular podcast publishers.

But one podcast we keep hearing about at Toast when discussing podcast production with clients is New York Times’ The Daily.

How “The Daily” started?

What makes The Daily from The New York Times different from what is found on NPR’s offer is that it is not a radio show at its core. The concept was developed specifically as a podcast.

The Daily’s mission? As Barbaro mentioned in the initial announcement made at the launch in February 2017: “This moment requires an explanation. The Daily is on a mission to find it.” And that’s what this podcast does, five times a week, in episodes of about 20 minutes. It explains. It dives deep in the news. We listen to discussions between Barbaro and NYT journalists who are explaining the news.

At launch, The Daily’s team consisted of approximately 25 people who produced five episodes a week, Monday to Friday. And although the crew has evolved through the years, the recipe remains pretty much the same.

In many cases, the program is recorded during the night or very late the day before so much it has to be attached to the news of the day. In other cases, it offers us an in-depth feature on a major issue of the moment.

The Daily is so successful that in 2017 is was also broadcast on over 20 radio stations in the United States and a TV show on FX was created, called The Weekly.

This article explains a little more the structure and mission of this podcast. (You will notice that AdWeek has set up a paywall to read the article. It is very rare that I recommend sources where it is necessary to have an account, but AdWeek is an excellent source of content and this free account can surely serve you to discover even more articles in the future.)

How is “The Daily” produced?

According to an article that came out one year after launch, the daily routine is about as follows:

  • 9:30 a.m.: At least one team member learns which stories will drive the day’s conversation at The Times’s morning news meeting
  • During the day: Producers and editors write, edit the script, find sources and interviewees, supporting voices are called in, archival research is also done if necessary. The show is then taped.
  • Into the night: last-minute post-production tweaks are done, along with final mastering and packaging.
  • 6:00 a.m. the next day: The day’s episode is released.

Is “The Daily” Profitable for the New York Times?

According to a January 2020 NYMag article by Matthew Schneier, it is.

Podcast advertising on shows like The Daily is sold on a CPM basis. With the average CPM for podcasts being between $25 and $35 at the time and with an average of 2 million listeners, The Daily could make $50,000 per ad per episode. Each episode has multiple ad slots, but they are sometimes unfilled. Even with one ad per show, The Daily could make $1 million a month or more. However, someone familiar with the inner workings says the total is significantly higher.

And according to InsiderRadio The Times says by it’s count, The Daily has been downloaded more than three billion times. It is also now carried on 265 public radio stations in the U.S. through a partnership with American Public Media.

Oh and that NYMag article is actually a superb portrait of Michael Barbaro, The Daily’s host: “The Daily has turned Barbaro from a career Timesman into a celebrity, one with TV appearances, adoring fans, loving parodies, and a personal life chronicled by ‘Page Six.’ The Daily introduced Barbaro to the wider world; it also introduced him to his fiancée.”

What are some of the best practices in The Daily?

The Daily set a precedent. It built a strong listenership and has been going strong for many years. What are some elements that made it stand out?

Here are a few:

  1. A charismatic host with a distinctive voice
  2. Sound bites from the field that brings the listener into the story
  3. In-depth discussions with the journalist that covered the event, told in a conversational tone, less journalistic than one would expect
  4. Behind-the-scene (or should we say “behind-the-story”) talks on how the news was made – this point is actually key in making the show “exclusive” in how we have the sense of being with the journalist as they cover a story
  5. Music used throughout the episodes – as with a movie or a TV show, the producers use instrumental music to create and ambiance
  6. Make it available everywhere, no barriers

These are all elements that we, and others in the podcast industry, consider when conceptualizing a new podcast for a client at Toast.

RiversideFM has also produced a short video on what makes the show work so well:

The Daily’s impact on the podcasting industry

The show has had a significant impact on the podcasting industry since its launch in 2017. Its success can be attributed to various factors, including its engaging format, high production value, and strong storytelling.

Here are some of the key ways “The Daily” has impacted the podcasting industry:

  1. Growth in news podcasts: “The Daily” has popularized the daily news podcast format, leading to an increase in similar shows from other media organizations, such as NPR’s “Up First,” Vox’s “Today, Explained,” and The Guardian’s “Today in Focus.” This growth in news podcasts has expanded the overall market, attracting new listeners and advertisers.
  2. Raised production standards: The high production value of “The Daily” has influenced the industry to raise its standards, as listeners now expect a higher level of audio quality and storytelling. As a result, many podcasts have invested in better equipment, experienced producers, and skilled journalists to create a more polished product.
  3. Attracting advertisers: The success of “The Daily” has demonstrated the potential for podcasts to reach a large and engaged audience, making the medium more attractive to advertisers. This has led to increased ad revenue for podcasts and helped to legitimize podcasting as a profitable business model for media organizations.
  4. Podcast networks and acquisitions: The success of “The Daily” has encouraged other media companies to invest in podcast networks and acquisitions to expand their reach and diversify their content offerings. Examples include Spotify’s acquisitions of Gimlet Media, Anchor, and Parcast, and iHeartMedia’s acquisition of Stuff Media.
  5. Cross-promotion of content: “The Daily” has shown the potential for cross-promotion between a podcast and its parent organization. The New York Times has successfully used the podcast to drive subscriptions and promote its journalism, inspiring other media organizations to explore similar synergies between their podcasts and other platforms.
  6. Experimentation with formats: The success of “The Daily” has spurred podcast creators to experiment with new formats and storytelling techniques, leading to greater diversity and innovation within the industry.

“The Daily” has been a game-changer for podcasting, revolutionizing the industry and inspiring a wave of innovation. Its impact has been felt far and wide, from encouraging media outlets to dip their toes into the podcasting pool, to setting the bar for production quality, advertising, and content strategies. It’s safe to say, “The Daily” is the podcast that keeps on giving, even after 1,700 episodes!

Can my brand produce a podcast like “The Daily” for its industry?

It is absolutely possible for a brand to produce branded content through a podcast. Just like “The Daily”.

First you need a strong, documented content strategy what will pave the way to what is relevant in your market, what is relevant for your audience, and what is possible for your brand’s means (budget, time, etc.).

From there, if audio is the format to go, you can dive into podcast production. In many cases, we recommend working with a podcast production partner as although you can record in-house, having experienced experts at hand will make sure you have the production value you are looking for, along with people that know what the best practices are at the moment.

Another thing you will need?


As with any serial content production, success does not come easily, nor does it come immediately. Be prepared to produce multiple episodes, and to keep a provision for promotion. People need to hear about it (often much more than once) before they will actually “hear” your host in their ears.

We’ve seen a lot of clients and others in the branded content space that start with 5-6 episodes and hope to score large audiences and downloads. It’s possible, but it requires a different distribution strategy than a podcast that spans many episodes.

Your content strategy and your content production planning needs to take this into account.

BUT, once it starts working, you’ll see you won’t be able to stop. If you do a quick search, you will find multiple examples of branded podcasts that have been going strong for a long time. Take the time to analyze their approach, how they produce it, how they structure their episodes, guests, hosts.

Learn from the best.

And listen away!