Podcasting was one of the pandemic’s success stories, as a closed world had people exploring new media options. But even with life mostly back to normal, podcasting continues to see gains in reach and the frequency among the people that are listening. Edison Research’s latest Share of Ear data shows 28% of people aged 18 to 49 report they listen to podcasts during a typical day. That is a near-doubling of the daily listening rate since before the pandemic arrived. And the daily podcast habit among this key age group has nearly tripled since 2016.
“Since the pandemic, daily podcast audiences have been on a tear,” says Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer at Cumulus Media and Westwood One, which released the latest numbers. “The pandemic has put podcast audiences into overdrive and growth continues unabated,” Bouvard says in a blog post.
Not only has the daily reach of podcasts grown, but so has time spent listening. Now that the world looks like it did pre-pandemic with all sorts of entertainment options available, one might expect time spent with podcasts to flatline or even slip. But that is not the case. Edison’s latest Share of Ear shows among adults aged 18 and older, 6.7% of their time listening to audio goes toward podcasts. That is up 14% after largely holding steady between 2020 and 2021 after getting a big pandemic-influenced bounce between 2019 and 2020.
Longer term, podcast’s share of time spent has doubled since 2017 according to Edison data.
One fact that may be helping podcasts is that even as people are back on the road, including commuting to work, the podcast habit has stuck with them. Edison reports five percent of the time adults spend with ad-supported audio went to podcasts in the latest survey. That puts podcasts ahead of the ad-supported channels on SiriusXM (4%) and the ad-supported options for either Spotify or Pandora. Radio still dominates the car, however. Edison says 89% of the time spent with ad-supported audio in the car goes to AM/FM listening.
Edison’s Q3 Share of Ear also shows that streaming now accounts for 17% of AM/FM radio listening among persons 25-54, its highest-recorded share to date. That's up from 11% in both Q3 2019 and 2020, and more than double its 8% share from both Q3 2016 and 2017.
What Bouvard refers to as a “head snapper” is Edison's finding that AM/FM radio’s persons 25-54 streaming audience is 20% larger than ad-supported Spotify and Pandora combined.
“It is definitely time [for] an advertiser or agency to add AM/FM streaming into media plans,” Bouvard said citing Edison data showing that a third of the daily AM/FM streaming audience is not reached by over-the-air AM/FM. “Putting streaming in your plan actually generates incremental reach, so not only is there a lot of audience, there are a lot of impressions. You're [reaching] people that you weren't getting with over-the-air AM FM radio,” he said on a video detailing the Edison findings.
Spoken word represents a far greater share of AM/FM radio streaming time spent (41%) compared to over-the-air AM/FM radio (28%), according to Edison's data. That's also male-driven, with spoken word making up 44% of their streaming listening vs. 29% for women.
Edison’s quarterly Share of Ear reports are based on a rolling four-quarter national diary-based survey of 4,000 Americans aged 13 and older.