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VG relaunches its true crime podcast, listening rates skyrocket

By Vilde Worren

VG

Oslo, Norway

In the fall of 2020, VG, Norway’s largest newspaper, dusted off and relaunched its long-running podcast, known by its rather unoriginal name, The Crime Podcast. For years, this podcast had been treated as an afterthought without a consistent publishing strategy or many resources spent on its content.

The simple podcast name was kept. But during the relaunch, everything from artwork, custom composed music, episode structure, and casting of the show hosts was changed in line with the show’s updated tagline: A closer look at the largest ongoing Norwegian crime stories. Since its relaunch, The Crime Podcast, has rocketed to the top of the Norwegian listening charts.

Journalist Tor-Erling Thømt Ruud and commentator Øystein Milli host The Crime Podcast.
Journalist Tor-Erling Thømt Ruud and commentator Øystein Milli host The Crime Podcast.

Double down on what you already do well

There is, in fact, an obvious answer as to why VG decided to revive its crime podcast. Crime journalism has long been one of VG’s backbones and something VG prides itself on doing better than our competitors. Hence, the foundations for a good crime podcast were already in place.

VG is already the home of several high-profile crime reporters, a widely known and respected crime commentator, and a deep network of sources and access to the criminal and judicial sector. Central to the rebirth of The Crime Podcast was the idea that it should fundamentally be a continuation of VG’s existing crime reporting, only utilising audio as a different platform.

Standing out in a crowded market

There is no shortage of true crime podcasts to choose from. But many of the podcasts covering crime stories do so by focusing on an older cold case or recapping a famous criminal story from the past. Many true crime podcasts opt for a serial format, leaning on the documentary audio genre.

Our approach was slightly different.

First, we wanted to cover criminal stories that are part of the current news cycle, mainly focusing on the highest profile, ongoing Norwegian crimes. This was a deliberate choice in order to stand out from other true crime podcasts. It is also a focus area that gives VG a competitive advantage.

Second, we do not deep dive into one singular story. We follow several evolving stories concurrently. Some of the stories are part of active police investigations, some have reached the courtroom, and others have reached a verdict.

Topical episodes of The Crime Podcast can also zoom in on a singular topic that is tangentially relevant to these ongoing crime stories, such as the usage of DNA as evidence material, undercover police work, or how crime technicians work at a crime scene. These provide our listeners with more in-depth knowledge.

Flexible format

Our editorial publishing strategy is simple. Every Thursday morning, we publish a new episode. Learning from other successful weekly podcast shows, we wanted to build and meet a clear frequency expectation from our listeners. These weekly episodes are well-produced and range from 30 to 45 minutes in length.

In addition to this, we’ve been experimenting with quickly produced bonus episodes to cover important breaking crime news developments. During particularly busy weeks, we’ve published two or three bonus episodes in addition to the Thursday episode.

Our listeners have come to expect and enjoy our take on breaking crime stories, even if the podcast format means we will never be able to go live and report instantly in the same way breaking TV news does. Our listeners tune in to find a freshly produced episode a few hours after the live TV coverage has ended, and they seem to enjoy the slightly slower pace, summarising format, and analytical content of The Crime Podcast. Not all users have been able to follow every twist and turn of an ongoing story throughout the day.

The annual, national Podcast Report shows that only 5% of users treat podcast listening as a monotask, whereas the rest multi-task and consume podcast content while doing other activities such as cooking, commuting, or working out. We aim to produce the The Crime Podcast episodes in such a way that they are relevant and enjoyable as on-demand content for our listeners, allowing them to get an overview of the current crime news stories at their own pace.

About Vilde Worren

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