More than one in four (26%) core radio listeners now consume podcasts at least every week, led by Gen Z and Millennials and fans of spoken word formats. That represents a five-percentage point gain in one year, up from 21% in 2019, with men slightly more likely than women to listen weekly. This is according to Jacobs Media’s Techsurvey 2020, released Thursday.
Most of the 46,000 survey respondents are members of participating radio stations’ databases. So unlike the Infinite Dial study released last week, the results are non-projectable to the entire U.S. But they do provide an important barometer of media usage trends among some of radio’s most loyal listeners.
Among generations, Millennials are far out front in weekly podcast consumption at 43%, followed by Gen Z at 37%, Gen X (28%), Boomers (16%) and the Silent Generation (16%).
“Podcasts seem to become more addicting over time and it’s Millennials who are those most into podcasts,” Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs said during a webinar Thursday.
Broken out by formats, fans of alternative radio (41%) and sports (38%) boast the most weekly podcast consumers. Classic hits (17%), AC (17%) and variety hits (16%) are the lowest.
More than one third (34%) of public radio fans listen to podcasts, the data shows. “Podcasting is more in the realm of public radio,” Jacobs said. “They have a better and longer track record with it and many of the most popular podcasts are rooted in public radio.”
For those that consume them regularly, podcasting is becoming more habitual, the survey shows. Four in ten (41%) weekly podcast listeners say they are tuning to podcasts or on-demand audio more in the past year, in line with 40% in 2019. But podcasts are especially addictive to Millennials, with almost half of podcast listeners in that cohort saying they are listening to more of them this year.
Smartphones remain the dominant consumption platform among weekly podcast listeners – 80% say they regularly listen to podcasts on their phones. All other platforms are pretty much left in the dust, including desktop/laptop (35%), in-car audio system (27%) and tablet (22%). And despite their fast rising adoption, only 11% of weekly podcast consumers listen to them on smart speakers. “A lot of people in podcasting believe that smart speakers are going to be a great gateway for podcast distribution and I think they’re right,” said Jacobs.
But despite podcasting’s undeniable growth trajectory, 44% of the Techsurvey 2020 sample of core radio users said they never listen to them, down from 49% last year. So-called Podcast Nevers cite a lack of interest in podcasts and talk programming in general. But technical issues were also cited as reasons for not jumping on the podcast bandwagon – 18% say they just don’t know how to do it and 16% don’t know how to find them. “There is a clunkiness that comes with podcasts,” Jacobs said. “A lot of people just don’t get what they are or how to access them.”