Podcasting’s share of audio listening jumped 29% during the past year according to the latest Share of Ear report from Edison Research. Its data shows podcasts accounted for nine percent of audio consumption among Adults aged 18 and older during the third quarter, up two points from a year earlier. AM/FM radio remains the dominant audio source with 43% of all of Americans’ listening time going to radio. When narrowing the scope to just ad-supported audio, the Edison data shows podcast listening now ranks second with 9% with AM/FM far out front with 76%.
The data, which was made public by Westwood One, showed despite the upheaval that COVID-19 has brought to commuting times and media habits, not all that much has really changed. “Some predicted that the pandemic would cause major changes in media use,” said Westwood One Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard. Instead, he said it turns out audio is “pandemic proof” based on the latest Share of Ear findings.
The real change for podcasters has come during the past five years as the medium’s share of ad-supported audio has more than tripled among Adults 25-54 – the demo that ad buyers care about the most. Podcasting’s 14% share among that age group during the third quarter now beats the 12% combined share of ad-supported Pandora and Spotify, notes Bouvard. “From 2016 to 2020, ad-supported audio shares among persons 25-54 for Pandora are down, podcasts have more than tripled, and AM/FM radio has remained strong,” he wrote in a blog post.
The biggest impact of the pandemic may turn out to be not what people are listening to, but how they are consuming that content. The latest Edison data shows that among those 18 and older, podcasting’s share of ad-supported audio on the smart speaker was 17% during the third quarter. AM/FM still leads with a 38% share of ad-supported audio time spent on the smart speaker, compared to 76% across all devices.
In-car listening is less of a factor for podcasters as it is for AM/FM or satellite radio, but it does contribute some listening hours. The good news is Edison’s latest Share of Ear report shows audio’s share of time spent in the car continues to edge back to pre-pandemic levels.
Prior to the pandemic, 32% of time spent with audio occurred in the car. That number dropped to 20% during the May shelter-at-home period. It rose to 28% in September, according to Edison.