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Podcast Listening Cuts In To TV Viewing Time, Social Media Use.

There are more media options, but no more hours in a day and that means consumers are making some choices. And they are choosing audio.

A new report from the strategic consultancy and marketing research firm KS&R finds podcasts have emerged as what it describes as a “significant contender” in capturing consumer share of media consumption. It says nearly three in ten podcast listeners are watching television less frequently than in the past, and a quarter are browsing social media less often. Among Gen Z podcast listeners, a third are spending less time playing video games. While TV viewing overall has been on the decline, KS&R draws a direct line between those habit changes and the rise of podcast listening.

“With their increasing popularity, podcasts have become a preferred choice for many individuals seeking audio content and entertainment,” the report says. “This shift in entertainment preferences reflects the growing appeal of podcasts as a convenient and accessible way for consumers to consume information, entertainment, and storytelling on various topics of interest.”

The report, titled "Podcast Frenzy: Riding the Wave of Ever-Increasing Popularity,” therefore recommends that brands should consider diving into the podcast space to supplement or complement their current content.

“Allocating a portion of advertising dollars to podcasts can also be a strategic move,” it says. “By carefully selecting the right podcasts and crafting compelling ad messages, advertisers can effectively reach their target market and achieve their marketing objectives.”

KS&R also gives the industry fresh insights into how often people are listening to audio. More than a third (35%) of Millennials say they are turning to audio for news and entertainment on a daily basis, the report says. And more than a quarter (27%) of Gen Zs do the same. That compares to 20% for Gen X listeners and 10% of Baby Boomers.

The report says across generations, a significant portion of podcast listeners – about half – discover new podcasts through word of mouth from friends. But that is not the only way. It says 34% of older Gen Z-ers become fans of podcasters through other media, such as television, before tuning in to their podcasts. KS&R also found 46% of older Gen Z individuals rely on social media for podcast recommendations, and a third browse top charts and “best of” lists.

“These findings highlight the influence of community in guiding podcast choices,” KS&R says. “It also suggests that cross-media promotion can attract and retain listeners. Exposure to podcasters through other mediums can serve as a gateway for individuals to discover and engage with podcasts.”

KS&R also examined where people are listening to podcasts. It finds three in four consumers overall typically listen at home. But there are some differences to fit each age group’s lifestyle. Millennials tend to listen to podcasts while driving or commuting (43%), as well as while working (28%). While Gen Z are more likely to plug-in and listen to podcasts in public settings (24%), such as while shopping, indicating their inclination towards staying connected and engaged with audio content while on the go. Baby Boomers have the highest percentage (84%) of listening while at home.

Video podcasting is also increasingly popular, particularly via YouTube (45%), which is especially popular among men, according to the data.

The survey also asked podcast listeners what they listen to and comedy came in first, followed by pop culture, sports, true crime, and news. That correlates with what monthly podcast charts reflect. KS&R points out that even as more people have come into the medium, the list of top genres has mostly remained the same, which it says indicates podcasting’s appeal and relevance in the entertainment landscape.

“Brands can effectively connect with podcast audiences by advertising within specific genres to reach a highly engaged and targeted audience and build meaningful connections with potential customers,” the report says. “By identifying the genres that align with their target demographic and brand values, advertisers can strategically place their ads in podcasts that attract listeners who are more likely to be interested in their products or services, as well as reach listeners during intimate and captive moments.” For podcasters, KS&R advises that creators can benchmark the format, length, and content of top podcasts in their genre for direction, best practices, tips, and inspiration.

"In this podcasting landscape, we're witnessing a profound shift, particularly in the loyalty and influence of 'super listeners,'" said Jennifer Longo, KS&R Telecom, Entertainment and Content Specialist. "It's an exciting time for podcasting, with boundless possibilities on the horizon."

Findings are from KS&R's survey which included 5,000 online surveys completed in March and April 2023, among consumers ages 13-76, contacted through a nationwide online panel. Download the full report HERE.

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