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Where’s 2022’s Podcast Listener Growth Coming? Survey Offers Some Clues.

Gen Zs and Millennials will drive podcast listening growth in 2022 according to a report from YouGov. Its survey of 17 international markets found that 16% of consumers overall plan to listen to more podcasts in 2022. But the numbers are higher among young adult consumers. It found that 23% of those in each of the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups are likely to increase their consumption of podcast content this year.

“While annual podcast consumption has not quite reached the penetration levels of other media counterparts, an impressive three in five global consumers claimed to have listened to podcasts in the last year or intend to do so in the next 12 months,” says YouGov. “Looking ahead, podcasts are the only media type registering a higher projected annual consumption in the next 12 months, compared to the previous year,” its Global Media Outlook Report 2022 says.

In countries where the population skews older, YouGov’s global survey showed smaller adoption rates. In the U.S., where podcast listening is more common than anywhere else on the planet, one in ten people surveyed said they plan to increase their podcast listening in 2022.

The growth of podcast listening does not come in a media vacuum. YouGov points out that during the past year a higher proportion of all global media consumers have dedicated more time to online media formats. For instance, 19% said they have spent less time listening to the radio and 18% said they are watching less television while at the same time four in ten said they are listening to more podcasts and seven in ten are watching more streaming TV.

When it comes to the audio medium, the report shows an interesting trend in the so-called stickiness of broadcast radio. YouGov says while radio registered the highest proportion of consumers globally who claimed to reduce their consumption last year, those who stuck with radio consumption are likely to remain loyal in 2022. It says 91% of radio listeners intend to stick with AM/FM in 2022. “Radio is a media of habit, and listening often revolves around routines, for example, listening to the radio in the car on the way to work,” the report says.

YouGov’s annual outlook also points to a greater number of people turning to podcasts for news, with more than one in ten people in the U.S. saying the medium is one of their sources for what is going on. The latest data shows podcasts are now roughly on par with newspapers as a news source.

“The pandemic has both disrupted and transformed how news is gathered and digested. News consumption across the world experienced an increase at the start of the pandemic, but for some consumers, it eventually led to news fatigue,” says YouGov. “Most digital news sources increased penetration between 2019 and 2020, and then dropped to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, except for podcasts which have continued to grow in popularity.”

As media consumption habits change, YouGov data suggests podcasts are a good way for advertisers to reach people who are cutting the cord with traditional pay television services. Among those who have dropped cable or satellite services, its data shows 77% listen to podcasts. And among so-called cord nevers -- typically younger people who never had a pay TV service to drop in the first place -- 52% said they listen to podcasts.

“The world has changed. Digital now sits at the heart of the contactless world,” said YouGov Senior Director of Account Management Dare Schenck. “So the way that we work, are entertained, shop, and socialized has really been changed during the pandemic. And consumption habits are changing. Traditional media was really hit hard during lockdown, and we saw significant increases in streaming services --- and an uptick in podcast popularity,” she said on an eMarketer webinar on Tuesday.

The YouGov survey is based on data collected from 17 countries from more than 19,000 respondents worldwide, including 2,001 in the U.S. The data was collected Oct. 18 to Nov. 8, 2021.

Download YouGov’s Global Media Outlook Report 2022 HERE.

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