The number of Americans who listen to podcasts continues to climb according to a just-released YouGov study. It finds that a majority 56% of Americans now listen to podcasts, with nearly a quarter (22%) now spending five or more hours a week with the format. That is up from 46% in 2021. Those heavy consumers that YouGov dubs “podheads” has grown 22% during the past two years while light listeners – those who consume fewer than five hours of podcasts per week – represents a third of Americans.
“Podcast consumption has surged in the past three years, helped by a proliferation of content and major investments from media and tech companies,” the report says. “Even as the podcast ears race begins to cool, listenership continues to grow, both in number of listeners and time spent listening.”
The YouGov study says three-quarters of podheads are under the age of 44, and just under half (49%) work full-time – with roughly the same number (45%) reporting they listen to podcast while commuting to work. Podheads are also overwhelmingly male, with women making up 38% of the group compared to 62% of men. Half live in cities while four in ten have at least a four-year college degree.
To get in those five hours of podcast listening or more per week, YouGov data shows podheads are taking podcasts with them as they move through their daily life – regardless of the time of day. Among those surveyed, 46% said they listen while doing household chores, 31% listen while cooking, and 17% listen while they are going to sleep.
Research released this week shows that more people are turning to on-demand audio and YouGov’s report shed some light on what types of listeners are most likely to make the switch to podcasts. The report says podheads are more likely to be younger – half are in the 18 to 34 age group – while they also have higher income than radio listeners.
The data also shows regional differences that point to greater numbers of podheads living on the coasts – especially the West Coast where 28% of those surveyed said they listen to five or more hours of podcasts each week versus 24% who reported spending that amount of time with the radio. YouGov says that the data represents an opportunity for podcasters to grow their ranks of podheads in the Midwest and South.
The survey also has some good news for advertisers. Among podheads, two-thirds (65%) say they listen to the ads. That compares to 35% who think they are intrusive and skip over them. Yet one in five podheads says they listen to the ads even though they consider them intrusive. That is the same number that says they aren’t intrusive and the ads on podcasts interest them. In fact, 66% say advertising helps them choose what they buy.
YouGov also quizzed heavy podcast listeners about their top brands across a variety of product categories. In total, the report identifies 150 brands that US Podheads strongly consider purchasing compared to other Americans, with Amazon Fresh and La Marca over-indexing the most. It says Energizer, YouTube TV, Ford, Kim Crawford, and Doritos made the biggest strides in the past year among podcast listeners.
“While the rapid investment in podcasting from publishers and tech companies seems to have cooled, the longtail impact of those investments have begun to manifest,” said Victor Gras, Senior VP, Head of Commercial at YouGov America. “Advertisers can’t count on everyone to listen to the ads, but those who do are engaged, interested, and growing in number.”
The report also finds that seven in ten (69%) podheads also spend five or more hours a week watching streaming video on-demand. That compares to 48% of the population overall. Three-quarters say that the video and streaming music services should offer more group subscriptions.
In terms of content, podheads have tuned out news and politics compared to prior years with entertainment shows scoring a lot better among these heavy listeners. Music podcasts had the biggest jump between 2021 and 2023, with 31% of podheads saying they listen to shows in that genre.
Download YouGov’s new “The Podheads: Audience Profile & Brand Rankings 2023” report HERE.