Share of Ear TOM

If half the battle of growing podcasting is having more people know what the medium is, then that war has been won. Three-quarters of Americans aged 12 and older are now familiar with podcasts, according to the forthcoming Infinite Dial study conducted by Edison Research-Triton Digital. Edison Senior VP of Strategy and Marketing Tom Webster presented a preview of the much-anticipated study during the RAIN Podcast Summit in New York on Wednesday. It showed the number of people who say they’re familiar with podcasting rose 7% during the past year to an estimated 212 million Americans.

“It is an indication that the space is still growing,” said Webster. “I’m still very bullish on the space – I think it’s going to be a very good, very consequential year for podcasting.” The full Infinite Dial study is scheduled for release on March 19.

Webster also made some additional data public from the company’s latest Podcast Consumer Tracker report. He said the data shows “very little change” quarter-to-quarter among the podcast genres that have the biggest reach. A notable exception is at the top of the chart: the number of podcast listeners consuming at least one Comedy genre podcast weekly jumped from 36% during third quarter to 41% in the fourth quarter. Second place Society & Culture also jumped five points. “It’s a very solid data set, but I think comedy going up is probably because we could really use a laugh right now,” he said.

Meanwhile Edison Research’s quarterly Share of Ear report shows that, among podcast consumers, the medium is now capturing the largest share of their time spent with audio sources at 28%.

“Podcasts are the plurality of listening. They are the No. 1 source of audio amongst podcast listeners,” said Webster. “That may seem like a ‘duh’ but it wasn’t always that case. When podcasting first started, it wasn’t necessarily the No. 1 source of audio for podcast listening.”

The biggest change in the Share of Ear data is for AM/FM radio listening. When Edison issued its first report, over-the-air radio had a 30% share of audio time among podcast listeners. Last year it slid to 25%. And now the latest report puts it at 20%.

Webster said what’s happened to radio isn’t an abandoning of the medium, but rather a re-slicing of the media day with listening “diffused” into a wide variety of options, from traditional radio to streaming and podcasts. “There is a still a place for everything on this chart, but it’s an indicator that once you got the podcast bug, your listening options expand,” he said. “As more and more people discover podcasts, the space gets more diverse and the audio market gets more diverse and we’re going to see things like that change.”