The potential of podcast persuadables (Sounds Profitable research)

Sounds Profitable has released a revealing study of podcast listeners: The Podcast Landscape, available to download HERE. It is authored by Tom Webster, Partner at Sounds Profitable.

This survey was fielded in May and June, and involved 2,400 Americans 18 years and older. The survey field was weighted to current census data.

Familiarity and Positivity

Ninety-five percent of respondents, whether they were listeners or not, were familiar with the term podcasting. Thirty-seven percent of them had listened in the past week; 18% were monthly listeners.

There was a generally positive perception of podcasts as “entertaining, interesting, informative, educational.” Less than 10% of respondents criticized the field as “boring, a waste of time, amateurish, offensive.” “Positives significantly outweigh negatives,” the summary states.

As we’ve learned in many previous studies, podcast discovery is driven by personal recommendations — 55% of those surveyed here said that. (The deck drills into details around that.) Aside from taking suggestions from friends, YouTube flares up in the survey results as a discovery source for 48% of respondents.

The study lists 12 most-selected podcasts as “favorite podcast” — we expected The Joe Rogan Experience to fare well in this question, and it surely did:

The study explores tendencies of regular listeners: How many different titles they listen to, their favorite pace and regularity of publishing, what they do after finishing a limited series, and more.



Churn opportunity is a central learning of the study, which defines churn across the whole listening landscape as the percentage of new listeners relative to overall audience growth — and it asserts that churn is “a huge opportunity.”


“The leading cause for lapsed listening and churn with podcast audiences is perceived time constraints due to changes in work, lifestyle, or a return to pre-pandemic behavior.”


Churn is explored through questioning why respondents haven’t listened recently, and identifies a few broad reasons:

  • time constraints
  • work and commuting
  • life changes

Each one of those is supported by respondent quotes. Then, the interrogation swings over to asking when might they listen again, and why they would listen again (“More free time” is the big one).

Non-listeners weren’t left off the hook; their zero-podcast lifestyle was dissected.

The Persuadables

All of this leads to a central discovery and coinage: “The Persuadables.” They comprise a cohort described as “the next new audience for podcasts.” And, in more detail: “A segment comprising nearly 10% of Americans 18+, are the biggest opportunity for growing new audience in podcasting. Persuadables over-index as female, 55+, and are very receptive to spoken word audio.”

This deck, first presented at Podcast Movement by Tom Webster, is far more detailed and informative than summarized here. The worthwhile download is HERE.

Brad Hill