Eighty Million Americans Listen to Podcasts on a Weekly Basis

Eighty million Americans, 28 percent of those aged 12 and over, now listen to podcasts weekly, according to the 2021 ‘The Infinite Dial’ report from Edison Research and Triton Digital.  That marks a 17 percent increase from the year before. Not only does the report give an insight into the general market, but also an insight into consumption during times of quarantine and COVID-19 restrictions.

Podcast Listenership Growing And Becoming More Diverse

Podcast listenership is increasingly diverse too. Fifty-seven percent of monthly podcast listeners are white, 16 percent are Latino, 13 percent are African American, and 4 percent Asian, with 10 percent of another background. Tom Webster, Senior Vice President at Edison Research (and previously a guest on Media+,) commented:

In the near quarter of a century that the Infinite Dial has been the survey of record for digital audio, the space has never been more vibrant, or more diverse, than it is today. Podcasting, in particular, has made great gains with women and non-White audiences, and truly reflects the diversity of America.

Smartphone is The Most Popular Device For Media Consumption

As well, as podcasts listenership, the report found 88 percent of Americans aged 12 or older own a smartphone. That’s compared to 51 percent for a tablet and 18 percent for a smartwatch. This makes the smartphone the most popular device for media consumption by far. Furthermore, 33 percent of that demographic, approximately 94 million people, own a smart speaker. That’s a 22 percent increase from the year before.  The report also found that 51 percent of those aged 12 or older “frequently” or “sometimes” listen to audio with other people. That rose to 69 percent in the 12-34 age bracket.

TikTok has seen a huge growth in the last 12 months, particularly among younger users.  Forty-four percent of those aged between 12 and 34 are using the service, according to the report – up 76 percent from the year before.

One thought on “Eighty Million Americans Listen to Podcasts on a Weekly Basis

  • Charlotte:
    What I find most intriguing about this is that yours truly would have expected a greater percentage of regular podcast listeners by now. In my household, I remain the only regular subscriber to podcasts. Watching my millennial-aged kids, however, my sense is that the combined entertainment proposition of both social media and YouTube, and their facilitation of self-curated, if not siloed echo-chamber content render much of the podcast infotainment offerings a distant, second-tiered contender for their subscription behaviour. Added to that is that most of the podcasts, at least those to which I subscribe, are audio only, and lack the dopamine hit of eye-candy video stimulation. Dull stuff, perhaps.
    Another competitor to podcasts, at least insofar as audio-only content is concerned, are audiobooks. To the extent, for example, that my son consumes audio-only content, it is often in the form of audio books whilst he’s driving or idling at work. Indeed, it is not only my kids, but my wife who also does not consume podcasts, unless a passive hostage to my playing them over our smart speakers; yet she will regularly consume and stream other digital content.
    When podcasts first came on the scene back in the heady days of the still emerging iPod, this was a novel medium for the tech savvy consumer; boutique content overly-represented by tech topics, and later edgy sociopolitical content. Now, of course, podcasts span the gamut of human interest, representing every industry, field, discipline and entertainment sector and age group. 
    It would be interesting to see, and I’m confident that the data exist and are being monitored by someone, by age and other demographics, the type and source of digital content, including podcasts, that smartphone and other compatible device owners consume. If podcasts comprise a minority share, and their relatively limited appeal is not simply that smartphone owners have yet to become aware of the market, but rather that podcasts are being outcompeted, then the question will be what will podcasting need to bring to the table that it has not already, will it even be capable of doing so, and what is its longterm future. 
    In the meantime, and despite having recently purchased the family subscription service for YouTube (courtesy of the demand of my kids who want advert-free access), I will continue to happily daily consume my diverse array of podcasts, including those produced by TMO. 

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