Podcast audience is big … and under-counted

Westwood One has released the Spring 2024 Podcast Download report. This continuing study seeks to reveal podcast consumer profiles, preferences, and habits. Collaborators in this ongoing project are Cumulus Podcast Network and Signal Hill Insights.

In this 11th edition, key areas of focus as stated by the presentation deck (which is HERE):

  • What is the profile of weekly and heavy podcast consumers?
  • How are Podcast Newcomers (started listening in past year) distinct from Podcast Pioneers (4+ years)?
  • Do podcast consumers go back and listen to the back catalog of episodes?
  • Platform usage: What are the latest shifts in preferred platform? How does that vary by segment?
  • Podcasts with video: What are consumer preferences? To what extent do they watch or listen to them?
  • How interested are podcast consumers in engaging and interacting with their favorite hosts and podcasts?
  • How engaged are podcast consumers with ad-free video streaming services?
  • Advertiser Perceptions: What is the current state of podcast advertising consideration and usage?

The presentation of the survey, which queried 608 people at least 18 years old, all of whom are weekly podcast listeners. The survey was fielded in April.

The key findings as identified by surveyors emphasize an actively engaged podcast audience, keen on discovery and fluent in video listening:

  • The longer you have been listening to podcasts, the more podcasts you consume: Average
    weekly time spent with podcasts and the average number of podcast shows and episodes
    listened to increases as podcast consumer tenure increases.
  • Downloads and listens underestimate the actual audience: Current download impression model
    fails to account for co-listening.
  • Over half of weekly podcast consumers will go back and listen to episodes they’ve missed:
    While 71% of weekly podcast consumers listen to episodes within 24 hours after release, over half
    of weekly podcast consumers will go back and listen to back episodes for new podcasts or
    episodes of current podcasts that they’ve missed.
  • Podcast consumers aged 18-34 are more tuned in to podcast discovery: Podcast consumers 18-
    34 are 1.9X more likely to have listened to a new podcast in the past 3 months. They are also 2X
    more likely to follow podcast hosts on social media.
  • Podcast advertising captures hard-to-reach, ad-free video streamers: Weekly podcast
    consumers are also heavy viewers of ad-free video streaming services (i.e., Netflix, Amazon
    Prime, ad-free Hulu, etc.).
  • Advertiser adoption of podcast ads continues to grow at a breakneck pace: In the Advertiser
    Perceptions study, advertisers say their use of podcasts has jumped from 15% to 58% in the past
    eight years.

The study identifies another set of takeaways related to watchable podcasts. YouTube leads in tat department, needless to say, and watching podcasts is growing in popularity.

Podcast listeners are defined and sorted in many interesting ways — time spent, number of episodes and shows consumed, how many weekly consumers listen to six-plus hours per week, and much more. We will revisit this deep and informative effort. In the meantime, it is freely available HERE.

Brad Hill