While eMarketer forecasts time spent with radio to stay steady over the next several years, its projection for digital audio shows an increase of 20 minutes per day from 2019 to 2023, according to the research company's May 2021 report “U.S. Time Spent with Media 2021.” The report also sees average time spent daily with podcasts more than doubling from 2019 to 2013.
Digital audio – which includes all internet-based audio streaming services within an app or website, including the online streams of AM/FM stations, along with podcasts and pureplay services such as Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora – surpassed terrestrial radio in average time spent daily for the first time in 2020, gaining eight minutes from 2019 to one hour and 30 minutes, compared to radio's 1:28. eMarketer's analysis explains this increase as resulting from “consumers' audio listening habits disrupted by the loss of commuting early in the pandemic.” The forecast for 2021 shows the average adult spending one hour and 36 minutes consuming digital audio content daily, up 6.6% year-over-year vs. an 8.8% rise in 2020. While in 2020 digital accounted for just over half of total time spent with audio, that number is predicted to move to 52.6% for 2021 and near 55% by 2023.
A key driver in time spent with digital audio are podcasts, which eMarketer's report says “have seen an unexpected spike in popularity as long-form audio engagement became easier to undertake at any given time of day during the pandemic.”
Podcasts accounted for 18.2% of that time spent during 2020, up from 14.8% in 2019. That share is expected to pass the 20% mark in 2021 and eventually the 25% level in 2023. Among podcast listeners, podcasts’ share of digital audio usage is at 36.5% this year and predicted to pass 40% by 2023.
As use grows, so does revenue. Based on stronger than expected advertising on podcasts during the second half of last year, analysts at eMarketer in April upgraded its outlook for the industry in 2021. They now forecast podcast ad revenue will reach $1.33 billion this year. That compared to its previous prediction of $1.28 billion.
Analyst Mariel Soto Reyes said podcast advertising recovered more quickly than anticipated last year as audience numbers continued to climb and podcast listening becomes “a staple” in many people’s media diet.