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Podcast Habit Takes Root With 50% Jump In Number Listening 10+ Hours Per Week.

Back to work in the office setting means more podcast fans are making the medium part of their daily commuting routine. Nielsen’s annual Audio Today report finds the number of people who say they listen to podcasts between 6am and 10am grew three percent during the past year, while those listening between 3pm and 7pm increased four percent. Nielsen says 43% of podcast listeners tuned in during the typical weekday morning commuting hours while 45% listened during the hours more common for the drive home.

Midday listening is more likely to occur in the early-afternoon than during the late-morning according to Nielsen, which also reports both dayparts saw growth year-to-year. It also says that while evening remains the lightest time for podcast listening, it too saw growth – with nearly three in ten people saying they listen to a podcast in the evening.

The impact of the pandemic influx of new listeners into podcasting is also continuing to cast a shadow on podcast listening numbers. Three years ago, podcasting saw a big influx of new listeners. But many were lighter listeners who may have consumed a show or two. As the world has mostly returned to normal, so have the media habits of many of those listeners. And that is leaving a podcast user base that spends more time with podcasts. In other cases, some of the newcomers have also likely embraced the format and are now listening more than ever. In either case, Nielsen says heavier podcast usage – defined by five or more hours a week of listening time – is growing, while lighter usage – defined as less than an hour of podcast time a week – is in decline.

Nielsen says nearly one in ten podcast listeners consumes more than ten hours of podcasts per week. Its latest Audio Today report shows nine percent fall into that category, which is up 50% from the six percent who listened that much a year ago.

There is also a noteworthy increase in the number of people who listen to five to seven hours per week. Nielsen says 15% of listeners now fall into that category, up from 12% a year ago.

At the same time, the number of light listeners has gone down. Nielsen says a quarter (26%) of podcast listeners consume less than one hour of content per week. That is down from a third (34%) recorded a year ago.

As consumption habits are evolving, Nielsen says what podcast fans are listening to is also in flux. Comedy and News remain the top genres despite dips in their reach. It estimates Comedy had more than 28 million listeners during May while news had nearly 24 million based on Nielsen Scarborough Podcast Buying Power data. But Nielsen says the Society & Culture genre had a 12% jump in its reach year-to-year with more than 23 million listeners last month, a two million increase versus a year ago. That put it ahead of True Crime. The Education genre added about a million listeners, growing four percent to more than 19 million during May.

The True Crime genre, which was one of the big pandemic winners with a 66% jump in its reach between 2021 and 2022, remains one of podcasting’s biggest reach categories. Nielsen says even with a three percent dip in its listening compared to a year ago, True Crime podcasts still reached 20.8 million listeners during May.

Podcasting may have reached a critical mass, but year after year, broadcast radio continues to reach more American consumers than any other platform, linear or digital. Nielsen says radio is consumed by 91% of Americans each week, including 85% of 18- to 34-year-olds.

Yet streaming continues to account for a larger share of time spent with radio. Nielsen says during the first quarter, 20% of radio listening time came via a streaming app. That compares to 14% during the first quarter of 2021.

Read more about the latest radio data from Nielsen HERE.

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