Pew Research Center releases audio and podcasting fact sheets

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As part of its State of the News Media 2015 report, the Pew Research Center has released nearly a dozen Fact Sheets. They are mini-whitepapers that gather recent research on TV, cable, public broadcasting, newspapers, and other categories of information publishing. Two of them are pertinent to the online audio industry: Audio, and Podcasting.

While there is some original analysis of third-party data collection in the Fact Sheets, Pew has mainly researched the research, collecting survey results and analyses from Edison Research, SNL Kagan, BIA/Kelsey, and other sources. The facts are charted and organized into business narratives.

In the Audio segment, Pew assembled research from Edison and Nielsen to paint a picture of streaming audio growth (generally, not particularly associated with news listening) and fluctuating numbers of radio stations devoted to news. Pew notes that the number of all-news stations declined to 31, down from 37 in 2012. But the number of news/talk stations is closer to 2,000, and has risen since 2010.

Pew also notes that broadcast radio revenue is shifting from spot to digital, citing RAB figures representing 2014 business.

The Podcasting Fact Sheet makes the obligatory homage to Serial as a category catalyst, and sketches a bullish state of the industry: “The increased reach and upward trend line of podcast consumption is evident in every available measure – the percentage of Americans who are listening to podcasts, the level of public awareness, and how many podcasts are being hosted and downloaded.”

Edison Research, as conducted in the Infinite Dial annual surveys, is heavily relied on to substantiate the upward movement of podcasting. Interestingly, Pew also accessed hosting and download statistics from Libsyn, a podcast hosting company. One note from the Libsyn analysis: Out of 2.6-billion podcast downloads in 2014, 635 were requested from mobile devices, compared to 43% in 2012.

PodcastAlley contributed to Pew’s podcast snapshot: About 92-thousand podcasts were produced in 2013.

Brad Hill