The Podcast Consumer 2016 | TALKERS magazine : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

The Podcast Consumer 2016

| May 27, 2016

By Holland Cooke
Media Consultant

Holland Cookewebster, tomBLOCK ISLAND, RI — On yesterday’s webinar, Edison Research VP Tom Webster surmised, “It’s safe at this point to call podcasting ‘mainstream media.’”

It’s always puzzled me how talk radio demonizes that term, while sales reps have been telling prospects that their stations ARE mainstream.  What advertiser wants to utilize FRINGE media?

edison-logo-300x137Admittedly, when I started attending podcasting conventions a dozen years ago, the medium did seem, shall we say, unconventional.  Not any more, according to data culled from the ongoing Edison/Triton “Infinite Dial” research series, and Edison’s “Share of Ear”™ studies, which Webster presented.

Here’s the whole thing, a 49-slide deck:

Short version from my feverish note-taking:

  • Most people now know about it. Awareness of term “podcasting:” 55% (150 million Americans).  22% 10 years ago.
  • 36% (98 million) have listened. (33% last year, 30% year-before, 27% year-before-that)
  • 21% (57 million) listened this month. (17% – 15% – 12%)
  • 13% (35 million) listened this week. (10% – 8% – 7%). And they listen A LOT…
  • 19% listen 3-to-less-than-5-hours a week. 17% listen 5-to-10-hours weekly.  12% hear 10+ hours a week.
  • 25-44 is the demographic “sweet spot,” but even 55+ is still growing.
  • It’s less a-guy-thing than it used to be. Monthly listeners are now 56/44% male/female.
  • Podcast listeners ARE more-affluent/better-educated than the general population…BUT…
  • That qualitative gap is narrowing, which Webster attributes to new users taking-up the medium.

Think Mobile, and Social

As recently as 2013, most podcast listening was on computers (58%, vs. 42% for smartphone/tablet/portable device).  Webster says “the “smartphone and Social Media have upended that completely.”  Now it’s 71% mobile, 29% computers.

Where they listen?

  • 53% at home
  • 21% in-car
  • 14% at work
  • 8% other
  • 4% on public transportation

How they listen?  Complicated RSS is old-school.  “Most often,” 59% “click on a podcast and listen immediately.”

Webster reckons “Social Media has had a lot to do with that,” since audio-links-in-Tweets allow instant access.  The smartphone puts audio back in the pocket, where folks my age tucked a transistor radio when we were teens.  “Twitter use by podcast consumers over-indexes the population” in general.

And when they listen?  Of the 41% who do download-and-listen-later, it’s not much-later.  55% of them listen “within 24 hours.”

Ammo for Podcast Advertising Sales

See what the following data points have in common?

  • Podcast listeners are big video-on-demand users. Netflix is #1 (47%), and 55% use some VOD each week.
  • Podcast listeners also stream lots (i.e., Pandora, etc.). 50% of the general population does; 75% of podcast users do.
  • One more clue, podcast users’ TSL of other audio: owned music 17%, TV music channels 4%, SiriusXM 4%.

Figure it out yet?  It’s what Tom Webster calls “Reach vs. Reachability.”  There’s little-or-no ad inventory in all-of-the-above.  So to advertise to this desirable, mushrooming, rabid podcast audience — “people who are increasingly more difficult to reach” — advertise in podcasts.  “They are seeing fewer messages than other humans.”

Admitting he’s wary of making predictions, Webster did venture that “Podcasting has been a medium of slow, steady growth.  This year, we saw a spike we haven’t seen before.  If we’re looking for that ‘hockey stick pattern,’ I’m willing to give you a confident ‘maybe’.”

See also: Video of my related Talkers 2016 session “The Next Generation of Talk Media” at


Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant, working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet.  Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice, Analysis, Opinions