Most podcast users are millennial males, listen weekly and engage with podcasts at home, according to a new online study conducted by the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) in conjunction with Futuri Media. Presented Tuesday at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, the national survey was conducted in February with 2,000 regular podcast users who listened to podcasts in the past six months, and 18 participants who gave in-depth interviews on their habits.
Importantly, the study does not differentiate between podcasting and other types of on-demand audio, and respondents self-identified as podcast listeners. The results suggest that consumers now consider several types of on-demand audio to be podcasts and this fluid interpretation of the channel may help explain some of the survey’s rather surprising results. In the study’s biggest head-scratcher, YouTube is far and away the dominant platform (70%) for “podcast” consumption. “People go to YouTube to find audio and we saw that loud and clear through this study,” Futuri president Daniel Anstandig said while unveiling the results at the NAB Show.
The study found that nearly three-quarters of users have been listening to podcasts for less than three years and, on average, listen to four podcasts per week for either 30 or 60 minutes.
Not surprisingly, nearly 80% of survey respondents listen to podcasts on their mobile devices. What is somewhat surprising is that the users listen to podcasts most frequently at home (3.9 on a 5-point frequency scale), followed by in vehicles (2.8/5).
In reviewing the results, it’s necessary to think of podcasts in a different framework. “The audience sees it as on demand content – audio or video,” Anstandig explained. “They don’t have a perception that a podcast has to be in a show or episode format. They look at any on-demand audio or video as a podcast.”
While the study was not limited to those who use broadcast radio, Futuri says the sample was large enough that it delivered some insights on the radio format preferences of those who also listen to podcasts regularly. Among radio listeners, 25-34 is the top age cell with both spoken word and music formats, with spoken word attracting a higher male audience (73% vs. 27% female), and music formats having a more even, but female-leaning split (51% female to 49% male). In another eye-opening finding, classic rock is the top radio format preference, accounting for 11% of regular podcast listeners, followed by hip-hop/rap (10.9%), country (10.4%), news/talk (9.7%), and alternative rock (6.6%). Anstandig told the NAB Show crowd that the study shows the disruption to radio from on-demand audio is “far closer than we think and it can be far more disruptive than we think to virtually every format in broadcast radio.”
Politics and government podcasts are the most popular, with 15% listing it as their favorite genre. Music was next (11%), followed by interviews/conversations, comedy, sports and recreation and non-fiction storytelling, cited by 8-9% of respondents.
Social media and streaming audio/video platforms are where most podcast consumers gravitate for their content, the study found. This suggests that using the on-air platform to promote an on-demand segment or podcast may not be the most efficient way. “If we’re shopping for on-demand users, we have to be in social media,” Anstandig suggested. “If we can market to them where they are today, then we have a far higher likelihood of converting them.”
Among other findings: Listeners trust their podcast hosts highly, prefer host-read ads, and look for creative, informative, humorous and integrated podcast experiences. They also want to listen to hosts who are authentic, feel like a friend and share users’ passions and beliefs.
The study, which was supported by Futuri, was designed and executed by UFCJC Telecommunication Professor and Director of Media Consumer Research Sylvia Chan-Olmsted with the help of doctoral student Rang Wang. Undergraduate students in a capstone class helped conduct the interviews. More results from the study can be found at http://bit.ly/2019podcaststudy.
The new survey follows a recent study conducted by Nielsen and Futuri that uncovered a robust appetite for time-shifted radio content among radio listeners – notably, highly monetizable and younger audiences.