The spectrum of podcast content continues to offer a wider variety and that is delivering the industry growth in what has been an underserved audience. A new report shows Black podcast listenership grew to 43% in 2022, an increase of seven points from a year earlier. The Black Podcast Listener Report – based on data collected by Edison Research and funded by SXM Media and Mindshare – shows Black listeners have closed the gap and are now outpacing the total U.S. population in podcast consumption.
The gains among Blacks come at time when podcast listening levels overall dipped. Edison says the number of U.S. adults overall that say they had listened to a podcast in the past month slid two points to 38% in 2022 as the media habits of the pandemic continued to revert back to normal.
“We attribute the rise in podcast listeners to more Black podcast hosts entering the space,” says Nidia Serrano, VP of Sales Marketing at SXM Media. “For a long time, podcasting was an empty dance floor for Black creators, but once a few started dancing, just like at a party, others felt empowered to join in. With more options and content that speaks to them, Black listeners now have a reason to listen to podcasts.”
The gap was closed as diversified content appealed to not just the young or old, but to any group interested in a topic or genre. Yet the survey reveals a gender split. Young, highly educated women tend to lead Black monthly podcast listenership with the data showing 55% of Black monthly podcast listeners are women. But Black men represent the largest share of Black weekly podcast listeners – by a 52% to 48% margin – which shows they listen more frequently than women.
Podcasts have historically skewed toward men, which makes their findings all the more noteworthy. “Black women have a history of leading media trends, so it’s exciting to see that this is also the case for podcasts,” Serrano says. “The differences between men and women are a matter of behavior and listening preferences. Women may not listen as frequently, but they listen more intensely. That’s because the genres they gravitate towards, from True Crime to Religion and Spirituality, tend to require that level of engagement. In contrast, the content men over-index against, like Sports and Politics, tend to be more episodic and happens at a higher frequency.”
The Black Podcast Listener Report also shines light on the age group that is showing the biggest embrace. While younger listeners represent the largest share of Black podcast listeners, older monthly podcast listeners are growing at a faster pace. Edison says 22% of Black listeners aged 55 and older are monthly podcast listeners, which is up eight points from a year earlier.
Translating Listeners To Ad Sales
Black podcast listeners spend five hours a week on average listening to podcasts according to the latest report, as the medium is considered a source of information, entertainment, and a place for listeners to hear unique perspectives from people who look and sound like them. Half of Black listeners say most or all of the podcasts they listen to have Black hosts.
The race of the host helps most when it comes to sales. The report shows Black listeners who have listened to a podcast hosted by a Black host in the last month were more likely to take action after hearing a podcast ad than those who’ve never listened to a podcast hosted by Black talent. That includes 53% that bought a product or service or 51% who used a promo/discount code. Edison says Black-hosted podcasts also drive listners down the purchase funnel as Black monthly podcast listeners are more likely to consider, trust, recommend and purchase a brand if they heard an ad for a brand on a podcast with Black hosts.
“Buyers are starting to get the message,” Serrano says, explaining many marketers now realize the role podcasts play in Black listeners' lives. “The level of connection and engagement between these hosts and their listeners is one they cherish and can't find in any other medium,” she says.
The new report is a follow-up to 2021’s first-ever Black Podcast Listener Report. It is based on data from 2,500 online interviews conducted in September among Black adults aged 18 and older.
“Podcasting has long had a perception of being primarily a white space, and research like this shows that that’s not the case, especially as Black listenership outpaces total U.S. consumption of podcasts,” said Mindshare’s Jared Greene.
Read more findings from the Black Podcast Listener Report 2.0 HERE.