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Nearly Half Of Gen Z Listens To Podcasts Each Month, With Diversity Driving The Growth.


Gen Z has been called the inaugural mobile-first generation, and in a natural progression of that media habit, this Netflix-raised generation is also embracing on-demand when it comes to audio. The first-ever Gen Z Podcast Listener Report shows that during the past five years, Gen Z monthly podcast listening has soared 57%. The report – released today by SXM Media and Edison Research – shows nearly half (47%) of 13-to-24-year olds in the U.S. have listened to a podcast in the last month. That represents an estimated 24 million Gen Z U.S. monthly podcast listeners.


Gen Z monthly listeners are also heavily engaged as three in four have listened to podcasts within the last week. And younger Gen Z listeners aged 13-17 are even more engaged, with 80% listening in the past week.


As podcast listening has grown, 46% of Gen Z podcast listeners are female, up from 42% in 2018. Just as noteworthy is the demographic picture the report paints reflecting America’s growing diversity. Gen Z podcast listeners are also more diverse than the general population of podcast listeners. That is most pronounced among Hispanics where one in five Gen Z listeners identify as Hispanic versus 14% of total U.S. podcast listeners. The report also says 15% identify as Black and 4% identify as Asian. And while no one political leaning dominates, the findings show 17% of Gen Z podcast listeners identify as LGBTQ+ while another 58% label themselves as allies.


“We saw in this study that over 40% of Gen Z listeners are looking for podcasts that offer diverse perspectives that are different from their own, as well as include stories and perspectives from people in their own generation,” says Melissa Paris, VP of Sales Research at SXM Media. “So it’s clear that there is some diversity of content available here that’s brought them to the medium, but there is always room to grow.”


Podcast Habit Started Young


Millennials may have had a head-start but for many Gen Zs, the podcast habit began earlier. While a majority (57%) started listening as teenagers, the survey finds that 16% started while they were under the age of 11. That is critical because the data shows those who started listening as children spend much more time with podcasts on a weekly basis – an average of 10.6 hours versus 7.7 hours for Gen Z listeners overall.


“This spotlights what a prospect the youngest of listeners really represents for the industry,” Paris says. “They spend more time listening, are more likely to binge-listen, and in general are incredibly engaged with podcasts. These young listeners present the opportunity to cultivate a devoted, long-term fan of a show and of the medium in general.”


Higher Tolerance To Controversy


Similar to older listeners, podcast ads are also connecting with Gen Z. Nearly half (47%) say they are more likely to remember brands they hear advertised on podcasts compared to ads they see or hear elsewhere. Six in ten have visited an advertiser’s website, and 43% of Gen Z listeners aged 16 and older have purchased a product after hearing a podcast ad for it.


“As Gen Z are true digital natives and have grown up surrounded by digital media, they expect ads to be part of that experience and they understand the value exchange between hearing or seeing ads to get access to the content that they love,” Paris says. “And I think when brands show up in spaces that they really connect with, like podcasts – they’ll reward those brands.”


Brand safety issues that have advertisers treading carefully with older listeners are also likely less of a concern among Gen Z. “Controversial conversations are welcomed in this trusted space,” Paris says. “Rather than being a ‘risk,’ this presents an opportunity for brands to show up authentically with this cohort.”


The Role Of Social Media


The report also sheds more light on how creators can get their podcasts discovered by Gen Z. About 90% say they’ve listened to a brief podcast clip on social media, and among those that have, 73% say that the teaser led them to listen to or watch the podcast somewhere else.


“Social media certainly seems to be breaking down discovery barriers for Gen Z specifically, Paris says. “I think as more podcasters share clips or promote on social to build their audience and more of that content naturally falls in this generation’s feeds, we’ll continue to see increased engagement for Gen Z.”


The Gen Z Podcast Listener Report is based on more than 1,000 online interviews among U.S. Gen Z ages 13-24 in April. See more results from the survey HERE.

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