Since the onset of the pandemic, more than half of weekly podcast listeners say they are spending more time listening to podcasts. According to the Podcast Download Spring 2021 Report from Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights, there was a 29% increase in time spent with podcasts from July 2020 (41%) to March 2021 (53%).
Heavy podcast listeners, those who listen more than six hours a week, are also spending more time with podcasts since COVID-19, up 16% over the same period of time. Longtime podcast listeners, called Podcast Pioneers for this study, have increased time spent with podcasts by 31%, while newcomers – those who have been listening to podcasts for the past six months – are also up slightly, from 55% in July 2020 to 58% in March 2021.
Looking at podcast listening levels based on demo, the report reveals that 55% of Persons 18-34 are spending more time listening to podcasts. Half of Persons 35-49 have increased time spent with podcasts, while 53% of those 55-64 have increased their podcast listening. Breaking it down by gender, 56% of male respondents increased podcast listening and 50% of women have done the same.
Heavy podcast use continues its steady growth. From July 2017 to March 2021, there’s been a 38% increase in those who listen to podcasts six or more hours a week. Additionally, more podcast listeners are falling into the heavy listener segment. From July 2017 to March 2021, heavy podcast users increased 38%. The largest segment of increased heavy podcast users is women, which increased 46%. Men increased by 38%, while Persons 18-34 saw a 44% increase in heavy podcast users and Persons 35-49 was up 26%.
The Podcast Download Spring 2021 Report also reveals that from 2017 to 2021 weekly podcast listeners are spending an additional hour with podcasts, an overall increase of 1.1 additional weekly hours spent with the medium. From July 2017 to March 2021 women spent an average of 32% more time with podcasts. Men show an increase of 18%; Persons 35-49 was up 26% and Persons 18-34 increased 18%. Overall, there is a 20% average weekly time spent increase.
Men still spend the most time with podcasts, but the gender gap is narrowing. Since July 2017 to March 2021, men increased their time spent with podcasts by 18%, listening an average of 7.7 hours in 2021, compared to 6.5 in 2017. Women are listening to 5.8 hours of podcasts in March 2021, compared to 4.4 hours in 2017 – a 32% increase.
The study was fielded online using a nationally representative sample of 600 respondents who were 18 or older; spend at least one hour listening to podcasts within the past week; and who were not employed in the advertising, public relations, marketing, market research, radio, TV or podcasting industries. Surveys were conducted from March 19-25.