There’s no shortage of things to listen to – the number of podcasts just crossed the one million mark – but making a dent in that content pile remains a challenge. The latest Infinite Dial report shows the average podcast consumer listens to six shows per week. That’s down one from a year ago when the average was seven, but up one from the average of five shows reported in 2018. And the amount of time users said they spent listening to podcasts each week averaged 6 hours and 39 minutes – or ten minutes more than a year ago, according to the study that’s a joint effort of Edison Research and Triton Digital.
“There’s probably a limit on the number of podcasts that the same people can listen to, so increasing the reach of the medium should really be the focus on the medium over the next couple of years,” said Edison SVP Tom Webster. A silver lining was that a small number (11%) of podcast listeners only consumed one show.
The growth of podcasting has coincided with its audience more closely resembling the country overall. A gender gap still exists – more men (39%) than women (36%) said they’d listened to a podcast in the month prior to the survey. But during a Thursday webinar releasing the findings, Webster said the industry is “approaching equality” as the number of women who said they’d listened to a podcast jumped 24% compared to a year ago in what’s likely an indication of the concerted effort by podcast companies to create content that’s more in tune with what they want to hear. In terms of ethnic groups, the data shows more whites and Asian Americans are likely to listen to podcasts, while Hispanic numbers still lag.
Yet at the same time a new spread may be forming and it’s among the different age groups. The data shows during the past year the number of 12- to 34-year-olds who reported listening to a podcast in the prior month jumped 7% to nearly half of that demo. And while the numbers also increased among those 35 and older, the gains weren’t nearly as big.
“That is a fairly new bulge,” said Webster. “Podcasting in its early and middle years was more of a 25- to 44-year-old medium, but now we’re seeing a lot more young adults, teens and tweens becoming interested in podcasting as they’re getting more content to consume.”
One reason for podcasting’s gains is the medium continues to attract more in-car users. The report shows among people who consumed audio while in a car during the prior month, 28% said it was a podcast that had their attention. That’s up from 23% in 2018. The data shows more people now listen to podcasts while in the car than satellite radio, although broadcast radio remains far and away the biggest go-to audio option. Most of that in-car experience comes from podcast listeners plugging their phone into the dashboard, although integrated systems like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are growing.
The growth that podcasters enjoyed as smartphone ownership expanded has essentially come to an end. The report shows 85% of those surveyed use a smartphone, with just small gains during each of the past three years. “It’s likely that this number is likely to creep up in the coming years, but it’s clear that the rapid growth of smartphone ownership is behind us,” said Triton President of Market Development John Rosso.
It’s one reason why Webster said podcasters need to put more emphasis on growing the industry’s tentacles into consumers’ media day. “It’s really important for the podcast industry to think about reach and increasing the percentage of people who know about these shows and listen to these shows,” he said. “The discovery issue is as much about people not knowing that they need or want to listen to podcasts and there’s a huge percentage of those people out there.”
The Infinite Dial study results are based on a national telephone survey of 1,502 people aged 12 and older in January and February. The survey was conducted to both cell phone and landlines and was offered in both English and Spanish.
Download the full report HERE.