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Podcast Listening Now Accounts For Half Of Spoken Word Audio Time Among Key Demos.

The total reach of talk radio is still larger, but the amount of time Americans are spending with spoken word podcasts has exploded in recent years. The latest Edison Research Share of Ear data shows nearly half (47%) of the time adults aged 25 to 54 spent with personality and talk content was through podcast listening during the second quarter. That is nearly double the 26% recoded five years ago.

The 25–54-year-old demographic group may be most important to advertisers, but the Edison data shows even bigger growth rates among other age groups. Among 35- to 64-year-olds – the age group most likely to listen to talk radio – 39% of their spoken word listening time went to podcasts during the second quarter. That is up 217% from 12% in 2017.

At the other end of the age spectrum, among 18- to 34-year-olds, Edison says 60% of all personality/talk time spent occurs via podcasts.

“If you needed any evidence to the growth and the strength of podcasting in the U.S., you have it here. There are significant shares of talk and personality time spent is occurring on the podcast platform,” said Cumulus Media Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard.

The 1970s offers a historical reference. Bouvard points out that it took FM a decade to grow from a 20% share of radio listening to a 50% share. “What we’re seeing in the growth of the podcast share has occurred in almost half the time that it took for total U.S. radio listening to hit 50% for FM,” he said in a video detailing the findings.

That is borne out in the fact that among 35- to 54-year-olds who listen to podcasts daily, Edison data shows their daily listening has more than tripled during the past three years from 5% in 2017 to 19% in 2022.

“It appears the pandemic has been very good for podcasting – over the last two years it has skyrocketed and now one out of five 35- to 54-year-olds are listening daily to podcasting,” Bouvard said.

The growth rate is also substantial among 13- to 34-year-olds who say they listen daily. Edison data shows that number has doubled from 12% in 2017 to 26% in 2022.

The rise of podcast listening may not necessarily be a negative for talk radio. That is because it may be additional audio time, rather than hours pulled away from AM/FM listening. The reason is that podcast listeners tend to be big fans of audio. “They love their audio,” Bouvard said.

The Edison data shows they spend just over six hours per day with audio, or 43% more audio time than the typical American that spends four and a quarter hours with the format daily.

Yet even with the massive audience growth for podcasting, the median age of podcast listeners has not changed all that much during the past five years. In 2017 the median age of podcast listeners was 29 years old. Today it has risen to 34 years old as the biggest growth in consumption in recent years has been among older adults rather than those at the younger end – they were mostly early adopters.

Edison says the median age of podcast listeners (34) is a dozen years lower than the median for AM/FM radio (46) and 26 years younger than broadcast television where audiences have a median age of 60.

The Edison Research findings are part of the recently released Cumulus Media 2022 Audioscape report. Among some of the other findings are that two-thirds (67%) of podcast listening occurs at home versus 18% at work and 10% in-car.

The Share of Ear study also finds that podcast listening occurs throughout the day and night. The biggest share comes between 10am and 3pm when nearly a third (31%) of time spent with podcasts occurs. Morning commuting hours rank second, accounting for a quarter of listening time, followed by afternoon commuting hours at 22%.

“This is very much an at-home medium, and listening really occurs throughout the day,” said Bouvard.

As earlier reported, the Cumulus report also points to a bigger opportunity for podcasts to grow in mid- and small-size cities where listening levels have not yet caught up with big cities. Cumulus points out that according to Nielsen Scarborough, the markets with the highest incidence of podcast listening are coastal cities and tech hubs like San Francisco, Austin and Seattle.

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