More than one in five American adults – 22% -- say they have listened to a podcast during the past seven days. That equates to 56 million listeners. And new research from MRI-Simmons shows even more say they had listened within the past month. It says 27% of adults surveyed reported listening to a podcast within the past month. With its deep reach into the marketing and advertising community, the MRI-Simmons report is likely to convince more brands to introduce themselves into the format.
The survey, whose sample size was a massive 5,052 adults aged 18 and older, was conducted Feb. 18 to March 4. Respondents said they typically listen to seven hours of podcasts each week. Heavy listeners, however, usually listen to 12 hours per week across an average of ten different shows.
Simmons says 18% of the adults it surveyed fall into that “heavy” listener category, characterized by consumption of six or more podcasts during a typical week. Nearly half of those surveyed (47%) are characterized as “light” listeners, listening to one or two shows. More than a third (35%) listen to three to five different podcasts each week.
The MRI-Simmons survey painted a portrait of heavy podcast listeners that is similar to what other research has shown. It finds that heavy listeners are 59% male versus 51% for all podcast listeners. They also skew younger, with a median age of 37 compared to 39 for podcast consumers overall. Heavy listeners are also more affluent with a median household income of $125,000 versus $103,000 for listeners in general. And they are more educated, with 57% having a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 48% for podcast listeners overall.
The MRI-Simmons survey also confirmed early studies demonstrating that heavy podcast listeners are not only big users of media overall, but also less likely to sit in front of a television. The data shows heavy podcast listeners spend 17 hours per week listening to what is still the biggest audio medium: broadcast radio. The only media to get more of their time is the internet, where podcast listeners typically log 34 hours per week. They also spend an average 16 hours per week on social media.
Television does however come out on top as the biggest media source for light podcast listeners, who spend 29 hours per week on average watching TV.
The connection that podcasts and their hosts have with listeners remains just as strong as it has in the past, even as lots more newcomers convert to podcast listeners. MRI-Simmons says three-quarters of listeners said they “feel close” to the hosts in the podcasts they listen to. And the same number want to know about new podcasts created by their favorite host. In a boost for word-of-mouth advertising, three-quarters of listeners also said they frequently discuss what they hear on podcasts. It’s little wonder then that 85% of those surveyed said they look forward to their favorite podcasts.
So, what are they listening to? The April survey said Comedy is tops, with a third (34%) reporting they listen to a Comedy podcast. True Crime ranked second (30%), followed by a music-based show (28%) with a quarter of those surveyed saying they listened to a News or Politics category show in the past month.
In its report to marketers, MRI-Simmons also noted their research into podcast listeners pointed to adults who enjoy both games and the arts in their leisure activities. For instance, 30% play board games and 17% play video games while 14% sign up for adult education courses and 13% are involved in artistic endeavors like painting or scultping. It also shows 12% say they have been to the zoo in the past year.
Download the MRI-Simmons “What Marketers Need To Know About the Podcast Consumer” report HERE.