Media habits have changed plenty during the pandemic, and a new survey from Morning Consult says for podcasters that is a good thing. More than one in five consumers say they listened to podcasts more than usual during the past year. And a third of Americans say they now listen to podcasts at least weekly. Importantly, the data suggests the effect was not limited to the early months of lockdowns with podcast listening scoring higher today than when the pandemic began a year ago.
While 22% of adults say they are listening to podcasts more, a majority 56% say their consumption remains unchanged as 7% report a decrease in their podcast listening. Men (28%) were more likely to report more podcast listening than women (17%). Bigger gains were also reported among 18-34 and 35–44-year-olds, as a third of both age groups say they are listening more. But there was also a 17% bump among 45–64-year-olds while 9% of those over 65 say they too are listening to more podcasts.
The data shows the biggest pandemic gains were among people who were already regular podcast listeners with 53% of people who said they listened at least several times a week before COVID reporting they listen to more content. And 39% of those who had listened to at least one podcast said they have picked up the habit. The survey also found bigger gains among high income earners.
As life slowly returns to normal, podcast executives told Morning Consult they believe the “stickiness” of the medium will help publishers hold onto the gains made during the past year. And as vaccines have people thinking about vacations, iHeartMedia reps said they are preparing to launch a slate of travel podcasts. “We want to be there if podcasting moves into more and more niche genres,” said Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeart’s Digital Audio Group.
Among the other trends that executives believe will survive the pandemic are the growing ranks of celebrity podcasts and shows targeted toward kids.
It is not just spoken word audio content that is benefiting. The Morning Consult survey finds that nearly half of those surveyed say they are listening to more music. Similar to podcasts, that is a larger number than said the same thing a year ago.
The Morning Consult data is based on surveys taken among 2,200 adults from March 23-26, 2021 and March 24-26, 2020. The margin of error is +/-2%. Download the full survey results HERE.