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More In-Transit Listening And Fewer ‘Light’ Listeners Seen In Nielsen’s Annual Look At Podcasting.

Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast, according to Nielsen, which says 183 million people have explored the audio medium. That is 64% of the population aged 12 and older, a two-point rise during the past year. But Nielsen says the growth in podcasting has been even more significant during the past few years.

“The U.S. podcasting landscape has changed dramatically in only a short amount of time. The number of Americans listening has increased by 45% in the last five years alone, and more than doubled in the past decade,” the research company says in the latest Podcasting Today report.

Nielsen says the typical podcast listener consumes nine podcasts each month, as nearly a third (31%) of those surveyed said they had listened to a podcast in the past week. And 42% said they listened to a podcast in the past month, with more than half (53%) of that group between the ages of 12 and 54.

“The amount of monthly podcast consumers has grown across the board in the past five years, but in particular among Hispanic and Asian consumers,” the report says. It points out the number of monthly Hispanic podcast consumers has nearly doubled.

The 2023 report finds that some listening habits are returning to pre-pandemic levels as Americans continue to return to in-office work, which brings with it commuting habits. Across all adults aged 18 and older, Nielsen says in-transit podcast listening had a four-point increase between 2022 and 2023. At the same time, the number of people that said that in-home was the place they were most likely to listen to a podcast dropped from 49% last year to 44% this year. Still, at-home remained the top listening location for podcast listening among adults 18+.

“The jump in listening while in the car or on public transportation is noticeable across all age groups,” the report says. “It is now the most popular location to listen to podcasts among consumers 18-34 and 35-49.”

The data from Nielsen Scarborough Podcast Buying Power shows the trends are the same across all racial groups too, although some are more pronounced than others. Nearly half (47%) of all podcast usage among Asian American consumers happens while in transit.

As more Americans are listening to podcasts, and their listening location changes, Nielsen has also seen a shift in the amount of time people are spending with podcasts. The number of light podcast consumers has declined during the past year, while the number of heavy listeners has increased.

The report shows the number of adults who listen to ten or more hours of podcasts during a typical week jumped by 50% year-to-year. In 2022, six percent said they listened to podcasts for ten or more hours – this year, nine percent say they dedicate that much time to listening. At the same time, the number of adults who listen to less than one hour has shrunk. Last year they made up about a third (34%) of adults, but this year those light consumers make up about a quarter (26%).

The shift to heavy listening is even more dramatic among 18- to 34-year-old adults. Nielsen says one in ten of them now listen to podcasts for ten or more hours each week, up from six percent last year. While those who say they are light listeners has dropped from 30% to 23%.

The report shows that the trend carries across all racial demographics too, with White and Asian Americans most likely to say they listen to podcasts for ten or more hours each week.

Nielsen says Comedy, News and Society & Culture remain the most popular genres in 2023. The report says Comedy has the most listeners, totaling more than 28 million in May, up 64% from five years earlier. News ranks second with 23.9 million listeners, up 35% from 2019, and Society & Culture had 23.4 million, up 63%.

But the biggest mover is the True Crime genre, whose audience doubled between 2019 and 2023 to 20.1 million, making it the fourth most listened-to genre according to Nielsen. While half the size of True Crime, Nielsen says the Fiction genre had nearly as large growth rates during the past five years. Fiction has 10.9 million listeners, which is up 93% compared to 2019.

Download Nielsen’s Podcasting Today report HERE.

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