Cumulus report cover

As more podcasters launch subscription options for fans of their show, the latest edition of the Fall 2021 Podcast Download report from Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights offers some clues about how to best market the option to listeners. Its survey finds that among weekly podcast listeners, 35% said bonus episodes are the benefit that would make them willing to pay for a podcast. About a quarter (26%) said access to extended episodes appeals to them, while 22% said early access to episodes would get them to open their wallet.

“Podcast listeners can’t get enough of their favorite podcasts,” said Signal Hill President Jeff Vidler during a webinar Tuesday. Less appealing to fans are benefits tied to show merchandise and transcript availability.

The report also points to the passion that listeners have in that nearly three quarters (73%) of weekly podcast listeners tune to new episodes within three days of them being published. And 85% of heavy podcast listeners consume the show that quickly.

“Most podcast listeners really can’t wait until they get the new episodes of their podcast,” said Vidler. He noted that 62% of heavy podcast listeners consume a new episode within a day of it being published. “That’s the deep engagement that people have with podcasts,” Vidler said.

Overall, the survey finds that 28% of Americans report they are now listening to podcasts on a weekly basis – most typically for 5.5 hours per week. The data shows weekly podcast listeners tune into an average of 4.8 episodes per week.

The gains made by podcasters come as more women turn to on-demand audio. The survey finds 60% of those who began listening to podcasts in the last year are women.

The survey also finds that a third (32%) of weekly podcast users are considered heavy listeners, consuming six or more hours per week. Among heavy users, the average listener spent 11.3 hours per week listening to podcasts with the average number of episodes consumed a week reaching nine episodes. This group tends to be younger, male and newcomers to the medium.

Vidler says the survey found that News was the most popular genre with nearly half (47%) of weekly podcast listeners tuning in to that content. Comedy and True Crime tied for second, each with 42%. Entertainment/Pop Culture ranked fourth with 40% of weekly listeners consuming those types of podcasts.

The data showed a big difference between the two genders. While News and Sports ranked at the top among men, Storytelling/Drama/True Crime and Entertainment/Pop Culture were the tops with women. Both genders had Comedy and News in their top five, however.

The survey found about one in five podcast listeners are interested in social audio apps and features – although more than a third (36%) of heavy listeners put themselves in that category. Among people who use these services there is essentially a six-way tie among Twitter Spaces, Facebook Audio Rooms, Clubhouse, Discord, Reddit Talk, and Spotify Greenroom, all within a point of one another.

“Last year Clubhouse was the belle of the ball, but now everyone wants a piece of that spotlight and they are definitely inching their way in,” said Brittany Faison, Insights Manager of the Cumulus Media Audio Active Group.

The seventh edition of the study is based on a survey conducted from Sept. 30 to Oct. 29 among a nationally representative sample of 600 adults aged 18 and older.

“Our new Podcast Download Report uncovers a major opportunity for brand marketers,” said Suzanne Grimes, Executive VP of Marketing for Cumulus and President of Westwood One. “With this new report, we can now prove podcast advertising reaches tens of millions of younger consumers who have abandoned linear television for advertising-free video streaming services.”

Download a copy of the Cumulus Media-Signal Hills Insights Fall 2021 Podcast Report HERE.