Podcast listeners: Scaled and upscaled (Cumulus Media / Westwood One)

The state of podcasts” — that’s the title of the newest Audioscape study from Cumulus Media. Released under the umbrella of the Cumulus Media / Westwood One Audioactive Group, the data sources are  Edison’s Share of Ear subscription data service, audience measurement and market research company Nielsen Scarborough, the Nielsen Podcast Recontact Study, and Advertiser Perceptions.

In it, we learn that podcast audience growth is “on a tear,” and podcast audience demographics are favorable to advertisers. We learn about podcast listening hot spots in the U.S., view a timeline of advertiser perceptions of podcasts, and more.

This is all packaged by Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer of Cumulus Media, in his familiar blue-tinged deck of 24 slides. To start with the conclusion, Bouvard’s key findings are below:

  1. Podcast audiences have scale: Among 25-54s, one-third listen daily, 44% listen weekly, and 59% listen monthly
  2. If you listen to podcasts, they are your number one audio platform
  3. The median age of the podcast audience has held at 34 despite massive audience growth
  4. The podcast audience profile is employed, upscale, and educated, according to Nielsen Scarborough
  5. Most podcast listening occurs at home throughout the day
  6. Podcasts have opportunities for growth in markets 51+ where listening is underrepresented
  7. Podcast’s share of time spent on the smart speaker is up 4X since 2018
  8. Advertiser Perceptions: Marketer/agency podcast advertising spending consideration and intention are at record highs

Digging into that broad sweep, we find intriguing details. We know the median age of podcast listeners from the key points above; a details graph compares that metric with AM/FM radio and network television, illustrating the comparative advertiser-friendly youth of podcast listeners:



There is significant employment and income information about podcast listeners, and how that info indexes against the total U.S. population. We learn that podcast listeners over-index on employment, occupation types, academic degree, and household income:



We also learn, interestingly, that Salt Lake City is the top-indexing major market for podcast listening; 42% of that city are more likely than average to have listened to a podcast in the past month. Twenty cities are indexed in this fashion:



Another interesting slide shows how podcast listening via smart speakers has grown, relative to four major (ad-supported) streaming audio services, over six Q4’s. During that span, podcast listening via smart speakers has risen from seven percent to 32%, as ad-supported streaming captures much lower shares.


One of the most important slides measures advertiser perceptions across eight years, in which respondents answer questions about their likelihood to consider podcast advertising in different levels of intent.

Seeing the entire study deck is important. It is free of charge, HERE. There’s also a video presentation HERE.

Brad Hill