The Download on Podcasts: New podcast audience research — short is good

The Download on Podcasts is a weekly feature sponsored by PodcastOne.

DOWNLOAD ON PODCASTS logo 03 with podcastone BIG LOGO canvasLast week there was news of a new podcast listener study produced by Cumulus/Westwood One, preliminary results of which were published by Advertising Age. A more detailed view of the complete study is now publicly available on the Westwood One blog, co-authored by CMO Pierre Bouvard and Amplifi Media Founder/CEO Steve Goldstein. (NOTE: Both Bouvard and Goldstein will speak at RAIN Summit Atlanta; Steve Goldstein will talk about podcasting with PodcastOne president Kit Gray and others.)

The article describes five audience attributes that were revealed by a custom Ipsos research survey, plus “special cross tabulation” of recent Share of Ear studies performed by Edison Research. The report puts new numbers against well-known trends — mobile listening, for one, and the “super audio consumer” profile of podcast listeners. Additionally, the Bouvard/Goldstein summary identifies how program length affects listenership and points to an analytics challenge that faces the business side of podcasting.

To take that point first, the new study puts statistical documentation into an obvious maxim: “The shorter the podcast, the more likely listeners will listen to the full podcast.” Too self-evident for research, you say? Then why is the podcast space glutted with 60-minute programs, and longer? Podcasting has been a long-form genre for a decade, but creators should see this chart:

westwood podcast study - length completion 638w

Nearly twice as many people listen to very short programs, as to very long ones. And even shows under eight minutes long suffer a nearly 50% dropout rate. That implies a browsing habit among podcast listeners, and a challenge to creators: Grab ’em quick and grab ’em hard. Any hardcore podcast devotee would agree that there is a lot of meandering in podcasts.

That chart shows data provided by AudioBoom’s analysis of its internal metrics. Interesting as it is, it shows usage in only one platform. Furthermore, there is no single-source, third-party measurement of how downloaded content is consumed. Most podcast downloading occurs through Apple iTunes (especially in mobile), a knowledge bottleneck that represents a problem for the industry.

The Bouvard/Goldstein research summary notes that podcast listeners are super audio consumers, spending an average six hours and 12 minutes listening to something every day, compared to 4:17 for the U.S. total. (That comes from Share of Ear.)

Over half (52%) of podcast listening happens in mobile. About a third on the computer.

The podcast/radio connection is drawn in sharp relief with this study, which found that when podcast users aren’t listening to podcasts, they listen to AM/FM radio as the preferred second source of audio.

westwood podcast study - second source

The study also plumbed the most popular dayparts for podcast listening, and found middays and nights to be when about two-thirds of the action happens.


Brad Hill

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