One in four Americans surveyed by MRI-Simmons report they listened to a podcast during the past seven days. The media research firm’s annual survey on podcasting estimates that translates to about 60 million Americans. And six in ten said they now consider podcast listening as part of their daily routine.
MRI-Simmons says those podcast listeners are heavy users of radio, spending an average 17-hours per week listening to AM/FM. They also spend an average 30 hours per week online. Podcast listeners are however lighter users of TV than the typical American. That figure is not a small number however, spending on average 13.5 hours per week watching television.
Helping to drive that listening is the engagement podcasts have with its fans. Two-thirds of those survey said they “feel close” to the hosts of the podcasts they listen to. A similar number said they frequently discuss what they hear on a podcast.
All that podcast listening means the typical podcast listener consumes five episodes per week. But among the heaviest users of the medium, the average doubles to 10 podcasts per week on average. MRI-Simmons says a quarter of podcast listeners fall into that heavy user classification, which is defined as consuming six or more podcasts per week.
The survey also found people are engaging with the advertising on podcasts. It reports 62% say that when they listen to a podcast, they listen to the ads no matter what category they come from. And 60% said advertising on podcasts gives them useful information about new products and services. Plus 57% said they are likely to buy products from a company that sponsors a podcast they listen to. The same number said they have a more favorable opinion of a company that advertises on a podcast.
“When drilling down to actions taken off of specific ads, nearly one in three will seek out more product info - quickly moving potential customers down the funnel,” said MRI-Simmons Digital Marketing Manager Matt Petterson. “Even when podcast ads aren't actively converting to sales, they can still boost brand perception,” he said in a blog post.
Efforts to diversify podcast content could help the medium grow, considering MRI-Simmons data shows that podcast listening remains a mostly White audience. The survey found 72% of podcast listeners it surveyed were White compared to 18% Hispanic, 15% Black, and 5% Asian.
And while the gender gap is smaller than it once was, it remains. Among heavy podcast listeners the audience is 55% male. Among the other demographic data points from the survey: the median age of listeners is 37, the median household income is $91,000, and 37% have never been married.
The MRI-Simmons survey was conducted August 19-31, 2020 among a nationally representative sample of five thousand adults age 18 and older. The final data was weighted and projected to the U.S. population.