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Podcasts have become increasingly popular in recent years, much in part to the popular hit Serial, an investigative journalism series hosted by Sarah Koenig and focused on the 1999 murder of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee. The 32-part podcast brought national attention to the power of podcasting, as well as a host of first-time listeners, who until Serial knew little or nothing about a podcast. There have been a reported 340 million downloads of the first two seasons in the series.
Podcasting is a relatively new media concept with a 2004 introduction into internet broadcasting, although audio blogging dates back to the 1980s. The birth of portable devices such as the iPod gave podcasting the boost it needed to catch on to information-thirsty Americans.
Just What Is A Podcast?
Before we get into numbers, let’s talk a little about podcasting and exactly what it is. A podcast is a series of audio files that are prerecorded and edited. A podcast episode is one audio file from the series.
Unlike radio programs, a podcast can be downloaded and listened to many times over. That’s what not only makes podcasting unique, but it has an edge over traditional radio programs.
There are no subject limits to podcasting. There are a plethora of topics to choose from; real estate, health and wellness, politics, current news, interviews with celebrities, technology, sports, and mysteries are all hot topics. The more unique the content, the more listeners the podcast will draw. There are hundreds of thousands of podcasts to choose from but are there enough listeners for all of them?
How Many People Listen to Podcasts?
The number of podcast listeners might surprise you. There are, according to Edison Research, 150 million people who have listened to a podcast at least once in 2019, or to put it in a different perspective, 51 percent of the United States population have tuned in at least once. That number is 20 million more than the previous year, indicating the trend is continuing to increase.
It is estimated that 90 million people are listening to at least one podcast each month, and 60 million are listening weekly. Edison Research reported that the weekly listeners averaged seven podcasts per week.
Just as podcasting is a modern technological concept, listeners are on the younger side of the demographic chart. According to Edison Research, about 40 percent of podcast listeners range in age from 12 to 24 and 25 to 54. For those 55 and older, only about 17 percent listen once a month.
The educational demographics show that 68 percent of podcast listeners are likely to be post-graduates and 56 percent are thought to be undergraduates. Forty-five percent are likely to have a college degree. The research also showed that 32 percent have an annual income of over $70,000, 37 percent have an annual income of over $100,000, and 45 percent have an annual income of over $200,000.
Males are more likely to listen to podcasts than women, although the four-percent gap is closing. Home is the preferred location for listening to podcasts for 49 percent of listeners and while driving is preferred by 22 percent.
The research also suggests that those tuning in will listen to 80 percent of a podcast, and 19 percent of listeners will listen on fast-play.
As the podcast audience grows, so does the ad revenue. It is forecasted to be $659 million this year, up $149 million from last year.
All indicators show that podcasting is still on the rise and expected to make up a good share of the media market next year. If you haven’t considered creating a podcast yet, or are on the fence about it, now is the time to start!