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Radio stations that appeal to Millennial and Gen X-aged men are swimming in a pool of avid podcast listeners. “Power” podcast listeners, defined as those who spend 5+ hours a week with the medium, are mostly 25-49, male, affluent and newcomers to podcasting. This is according to the Westwood One-commissioned Podcast Download-Spring 2019 Report, conducted by research firm Audience Insights in conjunction with MARU/Matchbox. Nearly seven in 10 (69%) of “power” podcast listeners are male and 40% are Millennials aged 25-34. Gen X (ages 35-49) account for 34% of this audience segment. 

The proportion of podcast listeners who meet the “power” definition is significant. 81% of all weekly podcast listening comes from these heavy podcast consumers, who represent 35% of total monthly podcast listeners. And these “power” listeners spend an average of nearly 12 hours a week with podcasts, compared to just over seven hours among the total monthly podcast listeners.

Fielded in March 2019, the survey of 1,407 monthly podcast listeners focused on four distinct segments based on when people began listening to podcasts. They are Podcast Pioneers, which started listening four or more years ago; those who began listening 2-3 years ago; those who began listening in the past 7-12 months, and Podcast Newcomers, who began listening within the last six months.

As Inside Radio reported earlier, the longer a person has been listening to podcasts, the more likely they are to access them through Apple’s podcast app. On the flip side, podcast newbies are more apt to rely on a more varied assortment of podcast entry points.

Podcast newcomers are also more likely to listen daily than podcast pioneers – 38% of podcast newcomers listen to podcasts every day compared to 24% for podcast pioneers, 18% for those who began listening 2-3 years ago and 22% who started in the past year. 

The survey also offered insights into what’s driving the boom in podcast listening. The medium’s on-demand nature and unique content are top draws. Asked to pick from a series of statements that best describe what makes podcasts different from all the other media they consume, 59% of survey participants said it was the ability to “choose what you listen to when you want to listen,” followed by “unique, one-of-a-kind content” (46%) and “it’s more immersive, engaging than other media” (44%).

Still, relevant topics and areas of interest are what first hooked listeners on podcasts. More than four in ten (44%) of total monthly podcast listeners first started listening to podcasts because “I heard about a podcast on a specific topic or area of interest that I follow closely.” Other top reasons include “friends or family members told me about a specific podcast they liked” (39%); “I heard about podcasts in general, and was curious to try them” (34%); and “I heard one of my favorite radio hosts, authors or celebrities had a podcast” (31%). 

In other findings from the survey:

  • Comedy is the leading podcast genre, followed by news & current events, entertainment & pop culture, music and health & fitness. 

  • Podcast discovery is driven by friends and family, social media, websites and other podcasts. 

  • Podcasts are shared mainly by word of mouth and social media. 

  • Most podcasts are consumed as soon as they are released, and binge listening is also substantial.

  • Frequent listeners tend to pay more attention to podcast ads 

  • The vast majority (85%) of “power” podcast listeners have taken an action after hearing a podcast ad. 

  • Android users are more likely to use laptops for podcast listening versus iPhone users. 

  • Among Android phone owners, 40% of podcast time spent listening takes place on mobile phones. 

  • Among Apple phone owners, a higher proportion (54%) of podcast time spent listening takes place on mobile phones.