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Podcasting Closes In On 100 Million Weekly Listeners As Medium’s Gender Gap Closes.

Podcast listening continues to set new records as nearly 100 million American adults now say they listen to podcasts on a weekly basis. Edison Research’s annual Infinite Dial report shows just how widespread the habit is becoming, as a third of adults say they have listened to podcasts in the car – the ultimate audio environment that has long been dominated by broadcast radio. The local morning show may get them to work, but the data shows that podcasts are becoming an in-car companion as well.

“Podcast has increased since last year’s Infinite Dial report, and it has increased in every measure – overall listening, monthly listening, and weekly listening,” said Edison Research VP Megan Lazovick. She said some dips that had been seen as the COVID bump faded have retreated, and podcasting is back on a course of continued growth.

Edison says familiarity with podcasting continues to climb, as 241 million Americans aged 12 and older say they know what a podcast is. That is 84% of the population and a 20-point increase from six years ago when 64% said they were familiar with podcasts.

Even more important is listening, and there podcasting is also setting new highs. Edison says an estimated 192 million people aged 12 or older have listened to a podcast, or two-thirds of the U.S. population. That is more than double the 30% that listened a decade ago when the Serial craze began a years-long acceleration of consumption.

Edison’s latest data shows most podcast listeners who have tried the format have stuck around. It says 47% of those 12 and older listen to podcasts monthly, or an estimated 135 million Americans. “That’s one of the biggest year-over-year increases we have recorded, and we are probably back on the track podcasting was on before COVID disrupted the pattern,” Lazovick said.

Women Drive Listening Growth

Helping to drive the increase is a closing gender gap. Men are still slightly more likely to listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. But while there was a seven point difference with women in 2023, this year it has shrunk to three points. Edison says 48% of men listen each week, while women listening reached new highs as 45% reported they listen to podcasts each month.

“The gap that used to exist between male monthly podcast listeners and female monthly podcast listeners is nearly eliminated,” Lazovick said. “The growth in podcast reach is driven by large increases among the number of female listeners. While many top shows are successful because they appeal to all genders, there are all types of shows appealing to the specific needs of women. And these are the shows that are going to see a huge lift as women close the listening gap.”

More women is good for podcasting on another level. Edison says among those that listen to podcasts each week, the typical listener consumed an average 8.3 episodes. But among weekly listeners, women listened more. They average 9.5 episodes each week, compared to 7.2 for men.

Edison also says the number of listeners 35 and older is continuing to catch up with what remains the medium’s strongest demo – listeners aged 12 to 34. Among the younger age group, Edison finds six in ten (59%) now listen to podcasts on at least a monthly basis.

Converting The Middle Third Of Listeners

The overall reach figures are a confirmation of a medium that has gone mainstream, and for most podcasters the number of weekly listeners is probably the most important. And there Edison has more positive news. During the past six years, Edison says the number of weekly podcast listeners has doubled. It says a third of Americans aged 12 and older listen to podcasts each week, or roughly 98 million people. That is a three-point increase from a year ago when 31% said they tuned in weekly.

Edison says overall, the podcast audience is roughly divided into thirds. In addition to the third that listens each week, another third has yet to pick up the habit whatsoever. But Lazovick sees the best opportunity in the middle third of people, who listens to podcasts, albeit not weekly. “And surely there is an opportunity to find more of them,” she said.

The Infinite Dial is based on a national survey of 1,086 individuals aged 12 and older. The survey was conducted during January in both English and Spanish. The data was weighted to national 12+ U.S. population figures. This year’s report was produced with financial support of Audacy, Cumulus Media, and SiriusXM.

Download the 2024 Infinite Dial HERE.

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