YouTube overtakes Spotify for podcast listening in new Cumulus / Signal Hill study

In a monumental 100-page report, Cumulus Podcast Network and Signal Hill Insights present findings from their Podcast Download — Fall 2023 Report. (It’s freely available; get it HERE.)

A few main areas of focus are explored in this work, covering platforms, video podcasts, and attitudes toward advertising. The survey work was executed in October, 2023, and sought opinions from 608 participants, 18 years and older, who had consumed at least one hour of podcast content in the previous week. No industry people were interviewed.

In the broad overview, here are the top-level takeaways as articulated by Cumulus and Signal Hill:

  • 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.
  • Podcast consumers aged 18-34 are more tuned in to podcast discovery: Podcast consumers 18- 34 are 1.3X more likely to have listened to a new podcast in the past 3 months. They are also 1.2X 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.). Podcast consumers want more content from their shows: Most weekly consumers follow hosts on media. When considering paid subscriptions, they value exclusive content/access ahead of an ad-free experience.
  • 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.
  • Funny and entertaining ads offer a creative opportunity: While podcast consumers remain highly receptive to podcast ads, they prefer funny and entertaining podcast ads in contrast to the more rational podcast ads they currently hear most often.

Video and YouTube are deep dives in this research. We learn that YouTube is the leading podcast platform, and has overtaken Spotify as the most used venue by weekly visitors (in the scope of this survey, of course.) YouTube is also important as a place to be discovered: 31% of weekly podcast consumers who listened to a new podcast in the past six months started listening to their latest podcast on YouTube. In the entire survey cohort of weekly listeners 14% said they have only watched their shows in the past week — no pure listening. That’s a modest number, but an increase in the history of this survey, as shown below:

How much are consumers listening each week? Thirty-one percent commit at least one hour per week to podcasts, while 12% devote six-plus hours.

The material presented above represents 10% of the publicly released survey results. We will revisit this work; in the meantime anyone can spend (a lot of) enjoyable time directly, HERE.

Brad Hill