Edison Research has released more data from the first-ever Black Podcast Listener Report. It shows that 26% of African Americans listen to podcasts on a weekly basis, and they listen, on average, for 5.2 hours per week. The report, commissioned by SXM Media and the advertising agency Mindshare, shows what is driving the gains are not only an influx of new listeners but also the ability to consume shows with video components.
Three in ten Black monthly podcast listeners have been podcast listeners for more than three years, but far more are relative newcomers to the medium. The report shows 42% of Black monthly podcast listeners have been consuming podcasts less than a year.
“What’s fascinating is that women are driving that,” said Gabriel Soto, Director of Research at Edison Research. “Just under half started listening within the last year, compared to about a third of Black men who started listening during the same period,” he said Tuesday during a webinar.
Social media is where roughly a third of newcomers heard about podcasts, with recommendations by family and friends also playing an important role in discovery with 17% saying that’s how their eyes were opened to the listening option.
Yet familiarity is only part of the listening equation. Nearly half (46%) said what got them to begin listening was a show topic that they were interested in. One in four said having a host that was either an actor, celebrity, or radio personality that they liked also helped them make the leap.
“The podcast space is the great equalizer,” said Nidia Serrano, Senior Director Sales Marketing Strategy at SXM Media. “You can be an influencer, TV or movie star, or a radio host, but you hold the same kind of influence over the listener that maybe an entrepreneur would.”
Natasha Stockton, Director of Communications Planning at Mindshare, said it also reflects the shift of Black audiences, which in the past have been very heavy television viewers. “It’s because of all the choices that the audio space has given these audiences and the ability to go to conversations that they wouldn’t find in other sources,” she said.
Soto said that video is making it easier for podcasting to find new audiences. Edison data shows that while three quarters of Black monthly podcast listeners have listened to a traditional audio-only podcast, it also finds that 83% have listened to a podcast with a video component. Of that number, 42% said they used YouTube because it was where they were already consuming other content.
“Among the audience that listens to podcasts with video, 40% say it’s easier to pay attention to, and about a third say it is easier to watch podcasts with other people than to simply listen to it,” said Soto.
Serrano said it goes to the communal aspect of listening. “What better way to rally people to have something to capture their attention,” she said. “It’s a different experience when you are listening by yourself.”
To that end, the report shows Blacks are more than twice as likely as Whites to consume a podcast in a social setting rather than personally plugging in the headset. Edison says nearly half (47%) of Black weekly listeners tune into a show with family or friends while at home. That compares to 23% for Whites, while it is similar to the 49% reported in the Latino Podcast Listener Report earlier this year.
The survey shows Comedy is the top podcast genre among Blacks with nearly half (48%) of Black weekly podcast listeners reporting they listen to a comedy series. That compares to 36% for the podcast listeners overall. Music ranked second with at 43%, which was also significantly higher than the 24% for podcast listeners overall.
There was a small gender split. Comedy was No. 1 among men with 51% reporting they listen to a podcast in that genre. For women, Comedy and Music tied at No. 1 at 46%.
But the study’s most intriguing finding to some producers may be what Black weekly podcast listeners said they would be interested in hearing if they included stories from an African American perspective. Two thirds said they would be likely to listen to a Business podcast if it included Black stories. Nearly the same number said they would listen to History (65%) or True Crime (63%) podcasts. The survey also showed a potential audience for shows in the Fiction and Kids & Family categories.
“There’s been tremendous growth with Black podcast listeners, but there’s so much more to go,” said Serrano. She said the findings help explain why Black listening has lagged in podcasting. “Those perspectives have just not been included. If they were, the presence that Black listeners would have in the podcast space would outshine any other audiences,” she predicted.
Six in ten monthly Black podcast listeners also said it is either “very” or “somewhat” important that a podcast include Black stories and perspectives. Half (51%) said it’s critical that a show’s host be Black, while 59% said they would likely listen to more podcasts if there were more Black hosts.
Serrano said it shows that audiences want more than just a token Black voice or character. “It’s about the representation of those stories, and why they love Black hosts is those perspectives are going to come through naturally,” she said.
The Black Podcast Listener Report results are based on online interviews with more than 2,500 Black adults aged 18 and older conducted in August.
Download the Black Podcast Listener Report HERE.