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Who Are Podcasting’s New Listeners In 2023? Survey Points To Women And Young Adults.

Younger, female and ethnically diverse. That is the picture painted in a new report of what podcasting’s newest listeners look like in late 2023. The Podcast Download report from Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights finds that, among the 18 to 34 year old age group, which is the biggest for podcast listening, three in ten started listening to podcasts in the past year. The result is half of podcast newcomers are between ages 18 and 34.

Nearly a third (31%) of weekly podcast listeners overall are podcast newcomers – or those who have started listening to podcasts in the past year. Millennials and Gen Zs may be leading the way in podcast adoption, but the report shows older adults are also coming onboard. The survey, which was conducted in October, says 29% of the newcomers are older than age 50. And 21% are between the ages of 35 and 49.

The data also shows a clear gender tilt to podcast adoption this year with women having a five point advantage over men, 52% to 47%, for starting to listen to podcasts. That is the opposite of weekly podcast listeners overall, where men have an advantage as they make up 53% of the audience.

“Women are more likely to be podcast newcomers,” said Liz Mayer, Insights Manager at Cumulus Media. “Both podcast pioneers and podcast intermediates skew male whereas podcast newcomers skew female and tend to be more diverse than podcast pioneers and intermediates as well with a higher percentage of Black and African American and Hispanic populations.”

The Podcast Download study also shows that podcast newcomers are more likely to be Black or Hispanic with the two groups making up four in ten of the people who have started listening to podcasts during the past year. African Americans make up 21% of newcomers while 19% are Hispanic.

While bringing in new listeners is important for the growth of the industry, the data shows the longer someone has been listening to podcasts, the more time they spend with the medium. The report shows just over a third (35%) of podcast newcomers are considered heavy consumers – spending six or more hours per week with podcasts. That is 13% less than podcast consumers overall. And the average newcomer spends 5.5 hours per week with podcasts, which is less than the industry average of 6.4 hours. The data also shows newcomers average 4.9 episodes per week versus 5.9 for weekly listeners overall.

“Podcast pioneers tend to listen more to podcasts than podcast newcomers,” Mayer said. “Pioneers spend 30% more time with podcasts than newcomers per week. And they also listened to 41% more podcast episodes per week,” she said on a webinar detailing the findings.

What the two groups have in common is a continual quest for new content. Cumulus and Signal Hill say that a majority (56%) of podcast newcomers have sought out new shows during the past six months while 43% of podcast pioneers – those listening for more than four years – have also started to listen to a new show. The survey finds 18 to 34 year old listeners are most likely to have started to listen to a new show – 61% have versus 38% for listeners aged 50 and older.

“The 18 to 34 age demographic is really leaned in on podcast discovery,” said Paul Riismandel, Chief Insights Officer at Signal Hill. “And this is important because they're also more likely to be those podcasts newcomers, the folks who are growing the medium.”

Increasing the definition of podcasts to include watching a video increases the size of the audience by 14%, the report says. And that may be a critical definitional addition to capture where podcast newcomers are. The survey finds 40% of newcomers prefer to actively watch a podcast compared to 31% that would rather use a traditional listening app to just listen to the audio. That is much different than podcast pioneers, who would still rather listen to the audio even though they now have the video option.

“Driven by podcast newcomers, more podcasts consumers prefer the video components where they can actively watch or minimize to listen in the background. And YouTube is a place to be found,” said Mayer. “YouTube acts as an entertainment search engine, and 31% of weekly podcast consumers who listened to a new podcast in the past six months started listening on YouTube.”

For the eleventh edition of the Podcast Download series, Cumulus Media and Signal Hill retained MARU/Matchbox to conduct an in-depth study of 608 weekly podcast consumers from October 13-19.


Download a copy of the Podcast Download-Fall 2023 report HERE.

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