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©2017 by Clare Freeman. 

Who are podcast listeners?

August 1, 2019

I had a catch up with my accountant today (shout out to Glyn Jelley!) and he couldn't wait to tell me about all the podcasts he'd be listening to...

I met my bank manager last week whose husband is thinking about starting a podcast (hey Janine & Phil Jesse!)...

I saw my mum for the first time in a few weeks and it turns out she's been doing some new series listening of her own and started recommending ME podcasts I should be listening to!

AND a friend Ness who I know from ice hockey circles tweeted me this week to share her newfound hobby - podcasts - saying "I never thought I'd ever get into them when they first appeared, how wrong I was!"

 

These days podcast listening isn't just for the handful of nerds. Everyone is cottoning on. And when they do - my god are they passionate about THEIR discoveries!

 

So as podcast makers, when it comes to tailoring our content and keeping it as relevant to our audience as possible, how much do we really know about who's listening in the first place?

 

If you know me, then you'll know I love a good stat. I'm an absolutely sucker for numbers. But I'm especially hooked on decent analytics which help inform me how, where and who is consuming my content. And to be honest, because podcasting is still a relative new medium, there's really not been a ton of stuff out there to rely upon.

 

So I've been on a wander. You know, one of those days where you find yourself jumping from website to website, article to article, then you blink and realise you've 50 tabs open...

 

In short, my mission this afternoon was simply to dig deep on what research is really out there about the habits and make up of the typical podcast listener.

 

Turns out, the latest RAJAR figures have just come out for Summer 2019 which now have much more in-depth facts and figures about UK podcast listening habits. And over in the States, Edison Research published something called The Infinite Dial back in February. Plus OFCOM published a wealth of data with the help of Acast back in September which was pretty darn interesting too. All of these are considered reliable sources within the audio world. 

 

Here's a sum up of what I found:

 

  • Two in three podcasts are listened to on smart phones.
     

  • Almost half of all podcast listeners are 15-35 years old. 
     

  • Peak podcast listening time is Monday to Friday at 5pm - 5.15pm... This is interesting as it appears people are sticking with live radio in the mornings (peak remains at 8am). But in the evenings travelling home they're opting for on-demand content - listen again, music or podcasts.
     

  • Gender split when it comes to podcast fanatics is 44% female, 56% men. (Live radio is 51 and 49% respectively.)
     

  • What are people doing whilst listening? Here's the top three...38% of listeners are driving or travelling when listening. 36% are relaxing or doing nothing in particular. 25% are working or studying. 

 

  • From 2016 to 2019, the number of hours spent listening to podcasts in the UK more than doubled, from 3 million a week to 6.3 million hours a week.
     

  • The average pod fan has listened to 7 podcasts this week. 
     

  • 92% of podcasts are listened to solo, with no one else around... This is an incredible stat as when it comes to live radio only 45% of us are listening on our own! So no wonder advertisers are interested in seeing how using a such an intimate medium can convince more of us to splurge whatever the host is selling...

  • 45% of podcasts are listened to wearing headphones. (Similar to audiobooks of which 48% are listened to on headphones.)
     

  • Only 1% of listening on voice activated speakers is used for podcasts, live radio is still the preferred choice on this platform (70%). But there will be room for growth here as podcast listeners are highly likely to own a voice activated speaker in the first place...
     

  • The top reasons people are listening to podcasts is to a) learn new things b) be entertained c) stay up to date with the latest topics.
     

  • Comedy is the most popular podcast genre, followed by music, TV and film.
     

  • You can actually buy your favourite podcasts on cassette tape to listen to. Well almost, they're USB drives that look like tapes...
     

  • Apple Podcasts and Spotify remain the clear market leaders when it comes to listening platforms. But other apps such as Google Podcasts, Castbox, RadioPublic, Luminary and Stitcher are continuing to rise in popularity as free and subscription-based alternatives.

Clare Freeman is a podcast coach, producer and consultant to individuals and companies across the world. If you a helping hand and 90 minutes one-on-one support to get started podcast, book her time online here. For more about her podcast consultancy services read here.

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