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Who’s Listening to Podcasts? Annual Study Reveals Latest Demographics

Who’s Listening to Podcasts? Annual Study Reveals Latest Demographics

Podcasts have reached a seminal moment in their history. For the first time ever, more than 50 percent of all Americans have ever listened to a podcast. Edison Research revealed this and more in their report titled the Podcast Consumer.

The research is an annual deep dive into America's podcast audience.  Edison has released the report every year since 2007.

Edison compiled the study by conducting telephone and online surveys of U.S. citizens. The company reached over 1,500 people, ages 12 and up, through random phone calls. Edison also polled 4,126 people over the age of 12 through the internet.

A podcast consumer is someone who listens to the digital audio format on a regular basis. Edison considers consumers to be people who tune in to podcasts at least once a month.

There are a handful of other critical details worth noting from the report. Below are a few findings along with some notes and commentary from Tom Webster, Senior VP of Edison. In April, Webster hosted a webinar where he discussed this year’s research.

Key Takeaways from Podcast Consumer 2019

1. Seventy-five percent of all Americans are aware of the term “podcast”.

The word "podcast" has reached widespread familiarity. But, the industry could do a better job promoting itself beyond existing listeners. It does great work cross-promoting within the medium. But it hasn’t done well when it comes to reaching audiences that know what podcasts are, but haven't yet listened.

“Just because you know what the term is, or may have heard the term, that doesn’t necessarily mean you know what podcasting is,” Webster said. “And in fact, a sizable percentage of those people who are familiar with the term, but have yet to listen to a podcast, tell us that they’re not sure what they are.”

2. Podcast audiences remain more male than female.

The number of women listening to podcasts grew by eight percent year over year. But men still consume more podcasts than women at this point. To put things in perspective, consider this. The population of the United States is 51 percent female and 49 percent male. But compared to monthly podcast consumers, those figures are the opposite. Men represent 54 percent of that audience while women only represent 46 percent.

Monthly Podcast Consumers

3. Americans, who listen to podcasts every week, tune in to at least seven shows.

From 2017 to 2018, this number didn’t change despite the influx of new podcast consumers. The industry added 17-million more monthly consumers and 14-million more weekly consumers. But the average number of shows didn’t drop as a result.

For Webster, this indicates two things about the listening habits of podcast consumers.

1. People who discover podcasts for the first time find more than one show they like.
2. People who’ve consumed podcasts for years have made listening to them a greater part of their audio diet.

4. Smart speakers account for 10 percent of all podcast listeners.

Webster thought this was significant because smart speakers are still young. Devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home haven’t been around that long. But, he also thought this figure would’ve been higher. That's because there are plenty of podcast consumers who own smart speakers. They outnumber the number of smart speaker owners who don't listen to podcasts.

5. Spotify leads the way when it comes to the streaming of podcasts.

According to research, 43 percent of monthly podcast consumers have listened on Spotify. Not far behind is Pandora, which reached 36 percent of the podcast audience.

Webster points to the strong association with streaming services and increased podcast listening. This is especially true among younger people. Streaming does away with the friction to listening created by some podcast clients.

6. Search engines lead the way when it comes to the discoverability of podcasts.

The occasional web search is the top way most podcast consumers discover new shows. More than 70 percent of them said this is how they hear about different podcasts. For Webster, this makes Google's presence in the industry more meaningful. Easier discoverability is a hurdle that podcasts have yet to overcome.

Want more insights? Then, read the full report on the Podcast Consumer by visiting Edison Research’s website.

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