Nielsen 220

If you were to paint a picture of the typical podcast listener living in a small or medium-sized U.S. city using the just-released Nielsen data it would be of a 39 year-old white man who works fulltime and whose household income totals $87,000 per year. “These new ways to listen are expanding radio’s footprint among consumers in medium and small markets—90% of podcast consumers there also use radio,” its latest Audio Today report says.

Among podcast listeners who’ve listened to a show within the previous month, Nielsen Scarborough data shows in small and mid-sized cities the audience leans male. The data shows 54% of the podcast listeners were men compared to 44% female. In terms of ethnicity, in those markets 70% are white, 14% Hispanic, and 8% African American. Regarding their other media habits, Nielsen says that in addition to their near-universal use of broadcast radio, 16% of these podcast listeners also reported they use satellite radio. “These are not people who are turning off the radio, like cord cutters, these are users of radio and they’re ultra-consumers of other forms of audio on other platforms,” said Tony Herreau, VP of Cross-Platform Insights at Nielsen, during a webinar Wednesday.



The latest numbers are similar to a report issued by Nielsen earlier this year that analyzed all market sizes. The biggest difference was in household income. When larger metros are included in the data the average household income was $96,500. “Household income and employment are about 20% to 30% higher than what they are in the average household in these small to medium size markets. So podcast listeners and smart speaker owners are a little bit more likely to be employed and wealthy,” said Herreau.

When podcast consumers listen to radio, the report says they’re most likely to stick to spoken word content. Nearly one-in-four (23%) said they listen to news-talk radio at least once a week. Pop CHR music stations ranked second at 22% followed by country at 20%. “That’s no surprise since podcasting is driven so much by spoken word,” said Herreau. The data shows 90% of podcast listeners and 92% of smart speaker owners are weekly radio listeners. 

The main focus of the Audio Today report is on broadcast radio and the data reinforces the claim that radio remains an important component of small town America. Its monthly reach in these markets – 99% of adults 25-54, 98% of adults 18+, 94% of 18-34s and 91% of teens – outdistances all other media channels. 

“Radio is the load-bearing wall in audio’s house,” said Nielsen VP of Audience Insight Jon Miller. “It continues to lead in weekly reach among all the other audio platforms.” Even with explosive growth in podcast listening, rising smart speaker adoption and digital and mobile technology providing access to many different forms of audio, Miller said AM/FM radio continues to be “the cornerstone” of audio consumption.