Edison Research

The weekly podcast audience is “soaring,” according to newly released findings from the 2019 Edison Research Infinite Dial study. While 51% of Americans say they have ever listened to a podcast, one in five, 22%, now listen to a podcast each week. This is triple the statistic in 2013, when a mere 7% tuned in weekly.

“Is this growth due to a huge influx of new listeners? Or are consumers getting in the habit of podcasts?” questions Westwood One Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard, in his take on the Everyone’s Listening blog.

For sure, audio streaming took decades to build into a weekly habit. In the early 2000s, Edison found that only half of monthly audio streaming listeners listened weekly. During the late 2000s, the audio streaming “habituation ratio”— weekly listeners divided by monthly audience—rose to 61%. And in the first half of this decade, 2010-2015, 74% of the monthly audio streaming audience listened weekly. From 2016 to 2019 that number grew to a stalwart 89%.

It was 2013 when Edison first began including questions in its survey about podcast listening. That year, 58% of monthly podcast consumers said they listened to the medium each week. Edison’s “habituation ratio” actually dipped in 2014, to 53%, then rose to 59% in 2015, 62% in 2016, 63% in 2017 and 65% last year, before reaching its current 69%.

Podcasting’s 2019 69% monthly to weekly habituation parallels audio streaming in 2012. “It took streaming and podcasting seven years to grow from a habitation ratio of 58% to 69%. For audio streaming, it was another seven years before achieving a 90% habituation ratio,” Bouvard writes and then ponders: “Will it take another seven years for podcasting to see habituation grow from 69% to 90%, too?”

His forecast: “Podcasting is firing on all cylinders: reach is up and so is habituation. Following in the footsteps of streaming audio, podcasting is poised to continue to grow as a major part of the American audio experience. There are more heavy podcast listeners than ever, the appetite for podcasts is growing, and advertisers are discussing podcasting at a growing rate.”