Over the last several years, podcast reach and audience shares have exploded according to the latest data from Edison Research’s Share of Ear report. Its latest update -- released by Westwood One -- shows 27.4% of 18 to 34 year olds now listen to podcast on a daily basis. That is up 43% from 2019. And among 25 to 54 year olds the growth is an even bigger 51% as 18.4% now report they listen to podcasts each day.
“Podcasting is on a tear with growth in both reach and share,” said Cumulus Media Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard in a video detailing the findings that it made public. “AM/FM remains the dominant ad-supported platform and AM/FM streaming is also on a growth spurt - its shares have almost doubled in the last four years.”
Podcasting’s gains are driven in part among the older half of the 25-54 demo that advertisers care most about. Edison says among 45 to 53 year olds, their daily listening number has doubled during the past two years to 4.5% in the latest update.
“In a typical day in America, one out of four 18 to 34 year olds are listening to podcasts, and 25-54s are a little less than one out of five. This is significant growth in daily reach in just two years,” said Bouvard.
It is not just consumption that is expanding, but so too is the amount of time that people are spending with podcasts. Edison says among 18 to 24 year olds, there has been a 56% increase during the past two years with nearly one of every ten minutes these young adults spend with audio dedicated to podcasting.
But the numbers show it is not just Gen Zs that are turning more to podcasts. Edison says among 25 to 34 year olds and 35 to 44 year olds, roughly eight percent of their audio time is spent with podcasts. That is a double-digit increase from 2019.
“There’s been very strong growth in just a two-year period,” said Bouvard.
Edison’s Q3 2021 “Share of Ear” study reveals AM/FM still dominates among listening to ad-supported media with three-quarters of that audio time done to broadcast radio. But the bigger story is the growth for podcasting. Edison says 11% of listening to ad-supported audio is now done to a podcast. That is a point more than the combined listening to the ad-supported versions of Spotify and Pandora.
Podcasting’s numbers are even bigger when looked at by age groups. Among 18 to 34 year olds, Edison says nearly a quarter of their time spent with ad-supported audio is with a podcast. And among the broader 18 to 49 age group, roughly one of every five minutes spent with ad-supported audio is time spent with a podcast.
Edison says AM/FM is still the dominant media pick -- even among the youngest age groups --but podcasting is a clear second choice as its share exceeds that of streaming services, and in some cases, the combination of streaming services and the ad-supported spoken word channels on satellite radio.
“Looking across the demographics, look at the strength of podcasts among 18 to 34 year olds -- their share is much greater than Pandora and Spotify combined,” said Bouvard. “Podcast is the number two player, which is kind of surprising because we perceive ad-supported music streaming is a growth market -- it’s not -- it’s dropping dramatically.”
The data also shows podcasting is making inroads into the dashboard. Edison says four percent of time spent listening to ad-supported audio in a vehicle went to a podcast among adults aged 18 and older. That still trails broadcast radio’s mammoth 88% share, but it is on par with the five percent share for the ad-supported spoken word channels on SiriusXM.
The gap between radio and podcasts is less pronounced on smart speakers, however. Edison says 39% of smart speaker listening to ad-supported content goes to AM/FM radio. That compares to 22% for podcasts. “Smart speakers are bringing radio back into the home,” said Bouvard.
In its comparison between AM/FM and both Spotify and Pandora, Bouvard said there is a “major disconnect” between where advertisers and agencies estimate the audio time share for each, compared to Edison's findings. “The streaming services are vastly overestimated and AM/FM is vastly underestimated,” said Bouvard. He said there is a growing school of thought that many marketers and ad agencies are basing their media choices on their own “highly unrepresentative” media behaviors, not what the average American is doing.