New Report: The Westwood One 2018 Audioscape: Podcasting And Smart Speakers Supercharge Listening

August 13, 2018 By Doug Hyde

While AM/FM radio remains America’s #1 mass reach medium, new and exciting platforms are transforming the audio experience.

In the new Westwood One 2018 Audioscape report, we take a closer look at two primary innovations in the audio entertainment space: podcasting and smart speakers.

Here are a few key findings, derived from the most recent “Share of Ear” study from Edison Research:

Podcast listeners crave spoken word content

The podcasting ecosystem offers seemingly endless choices for news, information, opinions, entertainment, and storytelling. It’s no surprise that podcast listeners are voracious consumers of spoken word audio content.

Podcast listeners are 84% more likely to listen to news content on any device in a typical day and 113% more likely to listen to sports content.

Personalities or talk shows? A whopping 289% more likely. Podcasting is the new delivery platform to reach active and engaged spoken word content listeners.

Podcast content reaches across the aisle

Looking to impact voters across the political spectrum before the upcoming midterm elections? Podcasting is the new town hall for political discussion, attracting left-leaning, independent, and right-leaning voters alike.

While share of time spent to podcasts leans slightly more Democratic and Independent, podcasting delivers a similar listener reach among Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. Podcasting is a wise choice for candidates looking to impact all key voter segments leading up to November.

Smart speaker adoption outpaces smartphones’ early years

In June 2007, Apple’s Steve Jobs permanently transformed the wireless telecommunications industry with the introduction of the iPhone. Within three years of its launch, 15% of Americans owned a smartphone. Today, 83% of Americans own a smartphone.

Three years after Amazon introduced the Echo, 20% of Americans now own a smart speaker – marking a faster early adoption rate than the smartphone. Smart speakers are on their way to becoming a staple for American consumers.

Think only the “digital natives” (Millennials and Gen Z) are adopting smart speakers? Think again. Gen Xers’ adoption (35%) of smart speakers is slightly higher than that of Millennials (32%). Boomers are also joining in on the fun, comprising 20% of smart speaker owners.

Demographically, smart speaker ownership skews male, although 42% of smart speaker owners are women. Smart speaker owners are also an attractive consumer target, as they are more likely to be college educated and have household incomes of over $75,000 per year.

Podcast listeners are fueling the smart speaker generation

The advent of smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home has provided a new mechanism for listening in the home, offering consumers access to their favorite audio content with a simple voice command.

Podcast listeners are a driving force in the smart speaker revolution. They use smart speakers 2.5 times more often than the average audio consumer. Podcast listeners’ adoption of smart speakers even tops that of the Millennials 18-34, arguably the most tech-savvy population group, and users of Pandora and Spotify.

Key takeaways:

  • Podcast listeners crave spoken word content
  • Podcast content reaches across the aisle
  • Smart speaker adoption outpaces smartphones’ early years
  • Podcast listeners are fueling the smart speaker generation

Doug Hyde is Senior Director, National & Local Insights at CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One.

Contact the Insights team at