Last week, Edison Research and Triton Digital released their 24th annual Infinite Dial study, the longest running study of consumer use of digital media. For marketers, the most compelling aspect of the study was the section on podcasting.
The CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One Insights Team has summarized the most crucial data on the U.S. podcast audience into two slides:
The first slide reveals a five-year trend of key podcast audience metrics. The second slide depicts how the profile of the podcast audience has shifted over the past ten years.
41% of Americans now listen to podcasts monthly
The growth in podcast awareness and listenership over the last five years has been amazing:
- Nearly eight in ten 12+ Americans are familiar with the term podcasting, up from 60% in 2017.
- 57% of Americans have ever listened to a podcast, a near +50% increase since 2017 (40%).
- 41% of Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month, a +71% increase versus 2017 (24%). Among persons 12-34, podcast usage has crashed through the 50% barrier with a monthly reach of 56%.
- The weekly podcast audience (28%) has nearly doubled over the same period from 15% in 2017.
- Podcast habituation is up. 68% of the monthly podcast audience have also listened in the past week, an +8% increase from 2017.
The changing podcast audience profile: More female, older, and more diverse
A comparison of the audience profile from 2011 to 2021 reveals major shifts:
- More female: Ten years ago, the podcast audience was 58% male and 42% female. Today the monthly podcast audience is more evenly split between men and women.
- Older and a little younger: Since 2011, the persons 55+ proportion of the monthly podcast audience has grown from 14% to 21%. The persons 12-34 audience composition has increased from 46% to 50%. The persons 35-54 audience composition has dropped from 40% to 29%. The podcast audience is spreading out.
- More diverse: The ethnic audience composition of monthly podcast listeners is up from 32% in 2011 to 43% in 2021. The Hispanic audience composition has surged from 11% to 16% over the ten-year period. Nielsen reports that the podcast audience is now more diverse than the total U.S. population.
Takeaways for marketers
The results of Edison Research and Triton Digital’s 2021 Infinite Dial study contain some compelling insights for brands:
- No longer is podcasting a niche platform lacking scale: 56% of persons 12-34 listen monthly. Two out of five persons 12+ are reached monthly. Podcasting has now earned a starring role in media plans as opposed to “test and learn” experimental buys.
- Podcasting is a now rich source of female and multicultural audiences: 43% of monthly audiences are multicultural, a +34% increase in ethnic audiences over the last decade. Over the same period, female audience composition has also surged.
- It is time for brands to commit to podcasting: Podcasting is America’s fastest growing audio platform. Ad-supported music streaming audiences for Spotify and Pandora peaked in 2016. All of the growth in audio is now coming from podcasting.
Pierre Bouvard is Chief Insights Officer at CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One.
Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@westwoodone.com.