Edison/Triton: “Consequential year” for podcasting in new Podcast Consumer Report

Edison Research and Triton Digital released the 2019 Podcast Consumer Report today in a webinar, loaded with metrics from Edison’s monumental Infinite Dial and Share of Ear consumer research studies. The program and its nearly 30 data-infused slides were presented to Edison SVP Tom Webster, clearly a podcasting advocate who used the “we” voice to exhort podcast stakeholders to take measures which might accelerate growth.

Growth is already accelerated from a time-spent perspective: Over five years the time spend listening to podcasts has grown 122%, the most dramatic increase of any audio type.

Basic podcast familiarity and adoption metrics are known to any Infinite Dial student. To summarize:

  • 70% Americans 12+ are familiar with the term podcasting.
  • 51% have ever listened to podcasts. (Webster called this a “watershed moment.”)
  • 32% have listened to podcasts in the past month — that’s an estimated 90-million people.
  • 22% listened to a podcast in the past week (62 million).

Revealingly, the study examines why people who know about podcast do not listen. Here are top reasons:

Looking at the 19% of people who are aware of podcasts but don’t listen, 75% said “podcasts aren’t for me.” Tom Webster called that “a cry for help,” referring to what many people think is a discovery problem which slows podcast audience growth. Webster suggested advertising podcasts outside of the familiarity bubble.

On the flip side, here are the ranked reasons respondents gave for listening to podcasts:


A subtly different question revealed what characteristics of podcasting makes listening enjoyable:

Following on in this line of questioning, Edison asked participants what would encourage them to listen more:

How do listeners relate to commercials in their shows? In an effort to gauge effectiveness of podcast marketing, Edison asked broadly about brand attitude:

It seems that listeners are generally agreeable to in-show advertisement, by a wide majority of sentiment. It’s also good news to advertisers that listeners hang in there for most of a podcast’s episode:

The “entire”-or-“most” statistic above is staggering: 93% of listeners hear pre-rolls and mid-rolls, and over half of listeners probably hear post-rolls.

Final Observations

Tom Webster delivered a series of key points to close the webinar:

  • It has been a very consequential year for growth of the podcasting category
  • Still significant opportunities for growth, but many misconceptions remain (“must be corrected by a concerted
    effort by the industry”)
  • Podcast still underperforms on smart speakers — producers and networks need to continue to drive innovation and
    skill development
  • Much as we want Google to continue to develop podcasting, podcasters should look at the opportunity right in
    front of them: YouTube. (YouTube’s share-of-ear as an audio source has more than doubled in five years)
  • Streaming has become incredibly important to podcasting, and vice versa (“opens new audience and removes friction”)
  • Let’s fix music licensing for podcasts. (“It’s an awful process”)
  • Podcast Networks: Your audience is a mirror of your content. (This partially refers to a statistic that 66% of monthly podcast listeners are white.)
  • It is time to revisit a professional association for podcasters, serving the need of all podcasters.



Brad Hill