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More Listening, More Often. Podcast’s Growth Isn’t Just About New Fans Says Nielsen.

Podcasting has leapt into the mainstream during the past few years, thanks in large part to an inflow of new listeners. That spigot remains open according to new data from Nielsen, pointing to continued growth for podcasters.

The latest Nielsen consumer sentiment study finds a majority 51% of listeners have picked up the podcast habit within the past two years. But as the number of content options has grown to more than two million different shows, Nielsen says an even more significant development has emerged – daily podcast listeners are listening more often, and to more titles.

The just-released Audio Today report says 56% of daily podcast listeners say the frequency of their podcast listening has increased during the past two years. That compares to 41% who say their podcast listening cadence has been unchanged. A majority 52% of the daily podcast listeners surveyed by Nielsen also reported they are listening to more shows, versus four percent that are listening to fewer shows.

Comedy and News continue to be the most popular genres overall. And while all genres have seen significant growth, Nielsen says Music (+109%), Leisure (+96%) and True Crime (+66%) are growing the most.

Nielsen’s latest Podcast Buying Power report says 28.3 million people reported listening to a Comedy podcast in May. That is up 44% from 19.6 million in November 2019. The increase puts more distance between Comedy and the second place genre News, which had 26.8 million listeners – a 37% jump since November 2019.

The pandemic shook up a lot of work and life routines and that meant fluctuations in media habits. But the latest Audio Today lays out an America where old habits are returning. For many, that means heading back to the office. Nielsen says podcast listeners now spend 90 minutes per day in the car.

“Audio consumers are leading the way toward recovery,” the report says. “Audio listeners are more willing to shop in stores, attend events, work in offices, and get on planes.”

The latest Nielsen consumer sentiment survey found 81% of podcast listeners are willing to attend an outdoor event, compared to 52% of the total population. And 70% are willing to attend an indoor event, compared to 52% of the population overall. Nielsen says 76% are also willing to return to an office setting, versus 57% of the total population.

At 93% monthly reach among American adults, broadcast radio still has the biggest reach numbers. But Nielsen’s report also acknowledges other mediums are seeing their reach grow too. It says when the reach of streaming music, podcasting, and satellite radio are combined, they touch six in ten American adults each month. And audio overall continues to experience unrivaled consumption numbers.

“As audio becomes an even more important part of our media diets, the total amount of consumption is nearly ubiquitous,” says Nielsen. “Radio -- the original ad-supported medium –- alone reaches 93% of the U.S. population. When you include the unduplicated audience from ad-supported as well as ad-free streaming music services along with podcasts and satellite radio, the reach rises to 99%.”

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