Westwood One fall podcast report: Women, millennials are closing the gaps in weekly listener audience

Westwood One has released its Podcast Download report for fall 2019. This annual review found that the new wave of listeners are more likely to be younger and to be female, and it also observed trends in platform preferences and the slow uptake of smart speakers. The survey, created along with MARU/Matchbox, included adult respondents who had listened to at least an hour of podcasts in the past week.

The survey noted some distinct shifts in the current makeup of the weekly podcast audience compared with the cohort of “podcast pioneers” who started listening four or more years ago. While the podcast pioneers were 38% in the 35-49 age group and 64% male, the demographics are shifting toward parity. The gender split for the total weekly audience is now 51% male and 49% female, and ages 18-34 have increased to a 51% share. Those results are even more drastic among the “podcast newcomer” group of people who starting listening in the past six months, where ages 18-34 had a 61% share and women represented 57%.

The report also explored the trend of live podcast events. Twelve percent of the weekly listener audience have gone to a podcast event, although that rate rises to 19% among people who listen to six or more hours of podcasts a week. Millennials, men, and heavy consumers of AM/FM audio posted higher rates of attendance at live shows. These could also prove to be a new revenue source for podcasts. The survey asked weekly podcast listeners who have gone to a favorite podcast’s live show how much they would spend on such an experience; 32% said between $21 and $49, while 34% said they would pay $50 and upwards.

Average weekly time spent listening to podcasts grew most among women, but the older demographics outpaced the younger ones here. Weekly listening for millennials grew 3% between July 2017 and July 2019, but the growth was 12% for ages 35-49 and 19% for ages 50-64 in that time frame. Weekly listening for women grew 23%, while men saw a dip of 3% for the period.

Although smart speaker ownership has been growing over the past two years, Westwood One found that weekly podcast listeners are not using them at the same rapid rate. Only 18% of weekly listeners tuned into a podcast on a smart speaker in 2019, compared with 16% in 2017. In contrast, it found that smart speaker ownership rates among American adults tripled from 10% to 30% in that period.

Apple Podcasts remains the top platform for the overall weekly podcast audience with a 38% share of respondents listening there “frequently.” YouTube was the second place platform with a 33% share, followed by Spotify with 30%. Millennials are driving the growth for Spotify, reporting a 40% share. The survey also noted some gender divide in platform preference. Women were more likely to be frequent Apple Podcasts users (43% compared with 33% for men), however men posted double the rates of using Google Podcasts (26%), iHeartRadio (18%), and SoundCloud (16%).

Anna Washenko