Podcasting has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than ever, according to the latest Edison Research Share of Ear data. It shows podcasting’s share of ad-supported audio time among Americans age 18 and older soared 28% during the past year and is now second only to the behemoth AM/FM radio.
The Edison data, made public by Westwood One, shows nine percent of audio time went to podcast listening during the second quarter. Only radio was bigger, albeit much bigger, with a 76% share. Even so, podcast listening overtook listening to Pandora’s ad-support music streaming service during the past year. At the same time, podcasting’s was up from 7% last year.
Younger demos have been behind a lot of podcast listening, but the Edison data shows among Adults 25-54 there has also been significant gains. Four years ago, that demo most sought by advertisers gave 54% of their audio time to podcast. This year it nearly tripled to 11%. And once again, the increase was big enough to overtake Pandora even as traditional AM/FM radio held onto its sizable share lead.
The grip of AM/FM radio remains strong as Americans are back in their cars. When COVID-19 forced nearly everyone indoors due to shelter-in-place mandates, the industry worried it would cut into listening levels. But the data shows Americans kept listening to AM/FM radio from their homes. “On top of that, essential workers continued to listen to AM/FM radio during their commutes to their jobs,” according to Westwood One Insights Manager Brittany Faison.
Edison’s Q2 2020 report shows AM/FM radio accounted for 87% of ad-supported time spent with audio in the car among Adults 18 and older. Satellite radio ranked second at six percent, with podcasting now the third-biggest ad-supported audio format in the car ahead of streaming music. “When it comes to entertainment, Americans are moving from ownership to rentals,” said Faison. “Streaming audio [music] growth comes at the expense of owned music, not AM/FM radio.”
The data, published by Westwood One in a post on its “Everyone’s Listening” blog, looks only at data for ad-supported audio sources. Edison makes most of its Share of Ear findings exclusive to subscribers, which includes Westwood One.