Rain Summit

The march to mainstream took a big step forward during the past year with more people than ever reporting they are familiar with the term “podcasting.” In data to be released today as part of the annual Infinite Dial study, Edison Research and Triton Digital will report 70% of Americans aged 12 and older say they know what a podcast is. That’s a six-point increase from a year ago. It’s also the biggest year-to-year increase in podcast familiarity in three years.

“We had a very significant spike in the number of people who are familiar with the term ‘podcasting’,” said Edison president Larry Rosin. After many years of slow and steady growth, podcast exposure has gained traction as the medium moves toward the mainstream. That’s helped lift the number of people who say they know what a podcast is. During the past five years the Edison-Triton data shows podcast familiarity has leapt by 43% among Americans. Edison and Triton are scheduled to release their full 2019 Infinite Dial report today at 2pm Eastern.

Speaking at the RAIN Podcast Business Summit in New York on Monday, Rosin also showcased some previously unreleased data from Edison Research’s annual Share of Ear study done late last year. “Time spent listening to podcasts has more than doubled during the last four years,” Rosin said. The study found that podcasts accounted for 3.9% of overall time spent with audio in 2018 among Americans aged 13 and older, compared to a 1.7% share in 2014—a 122% increase during the four-year span. Only YouTube had a larger percentage increase. “Podcast is the biggest percentage change of anything we’ve tracked,” Rosin said.

Podcasting Seen As ‘Undersold’

Edison’s data also suggest how big an opportunity exists for podcast revenue to grow. When only the ad-support audio marketplace is analyzed, Rosin said it shows podcasting’s share increases to 6%. While that’s still smaller than AM/FM radio (73%) or streaming audio (18%), it’s already twice the 3% that satellite radio receives. And based on the billions of dollars spent by advertisers on audio advertising each year, Rosin says the few hundred million dollars that podcasters currently pocket suggests the medium is being “undersold” at this point. “If podcasts were getting its fair share it would be getting over $1 billion,” Rosin said, adding, “There’s huge upside for podcasting.”

Podcasting may still be considered a niche media by some, but among those who do use the platform Rosin said their data shows it’s addictive. Podcast listeners spent 28% of their audio time with the medium. “Once people get into it, they really get into it,” he said.

That embrace of podcasting also shows up in another metric tracked. Edison found the amount of time spent with spoken-word content increased between 2014 and 2018. During that time music’s share slid from 81% to 78% while spoken word increased from 19% to 22%. “The amount of speech has been ticking up a little bit—people are making more time in their lives for speech-based content,” Rosin said.