Jeff Vidler: Time Spent with Podcasts is not a Zero-Sum Game

This guest column by Jeff Vidler, President of Audience Insights Inc. in Ontario, was first published in Medium. Jeff Vidler is a regular speaker at RAIN Summit Canada, and is the co-producer of the Canadian Podcast Listener Report.

In The Canadian Podcast Listener, we put a lot of attention on consumption; who’s listening, how many episodes are being listened to, and how much time are they spending with the medium. One of the questions we often get asked is: “where is this time coming from?”

Radio broadcasters tend to be particularly concerned about this. In radio measurement, only one station can ‘win the minute’ (or quarter-hour), and get credit for the listener’s attention at that moment—time spent with a competitor is time not spent with your station. This makes increased time spent with podcasts a scary thought.

In The Canadian Podcast Listener 2019, we see some findings that should help broadcasters sleep a little better—more than 40% of the podcast listeners we spoke to told us that the time they spend listening to podcasts is new media time, and doesn’t cut into the time they spend with other media.

Podcast listeners can start and stop their podcasts as needed. That makes them well-suited to fill in gaps in media consumption throughout the day. Podcasts find their way into listeners’ lives while they’re walking to the store, waiting for transit, working out, or doing a few quick chores in the yard. Podcasts do have an impact in the traditional media battlegrounds—at-home, in-car and at-work—but a lot of listening takes place in less competitive times.

What media is being replaced by the 56% of listeners who say podcasts are replacing time spent with other media? Audio media are most likely to be affected by podcast listening, but video, social and even print are shouldering some of the impact as well.

And when it comes to podcasting’s impact on audio listening, there is encouraging news for broadcasters there too. Only 26% of podcast listeners say that podcasts are carving into the time they spend with AM/FM. Nearly as many podcast listeners (22%) say podcasts are replacing time spent with non-radio music (mp3s, streaming, etc.), and 9% say that they are listening to fewer audio books now that they’re listening to podcasts.

Rather than being a threat, podcasts provide an opportunity for broadcasters to create more touchpoints with consumers throughout the day, and take advantage of listeners’ love for audio.

The Canadian Podcast Listener 2019 is co-published by Audience Insights Inc. and Ulster Media, with support from The Podcast Exchange (TPX). Results are based on online surveys using a market representative sample of more than 4,500 Canadian adults from Maru Voice Canada. A free summary report of top-line findings from this year’s study is available here.

Jeff Vidler

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