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Monday Memo: The Podcast Consumer 2019

| April 15, 2019

Holland Cooke

BLOCK ISLAND, RI –  Last week in Las Vegas, the message was unmistakable.  While the National Association of Broadcasters’ mission remains advocating for FCC-licensees, the clear message to broadcasters at the NAB Show was to augment on-air with on-demand.  More, ICYMI in last week’s column:

For AM/FM talkers and bloggers, “on-demand” = “podcasting,” a topic we discussed with Michael Harrison and Fred Jacobs on my TV show:

Everybody’s talking.  Who’s listening?

The ongoing Edison Research “Infinite Dial” surveys began in 1998.  Help yourself to the most recent report – “The Podcast Consumer 2019” – download and webinar video — at:

My short-version notes from the debut presentation by Edison Senior VP Tom Webster:

WHO are they?

  • “Growth in every major demographic.”
  • As with most new-tech adoption, growth is most significant 12-24.
  • Podcast consumers are SLIGHTLY more male.
  • Ethnic: “Whiter than the U.S. population.”
  • More affluent, educated, employed full-time than the general population.

“This is a medium that is continuing to bring in new listeners.”

  • 48% of those who have “Ever listened” started listening less than a year ago.
  • 41% of monthly podcast listeners say they are listening to more podcasts than a year ago (only 13% are listening to less).

WHERE are they?

Lots of places radio wants to go:

  • 90%: At home
  • 64%: In a car or truck
  • 49%: While walking around/on foot
  • 43%: At a gym/while working out
  • 37%: At work
  • 37%: While riding public transportation

Note: Because people listen in multiple locations, these numbers will add-up to more than 100%:

HOW they listen?

On non-receiver devices broadcasters want to extend to:

  • 65%: Smartphone/Tablet/Portable device
  • 25%: Computer/Laptop
  • 10%: Smart speaker

Tom calls podcast listeners “an attentive, captive, lean-forward audience,” based on what they’re doing while they listen.  Top 4 activities:

  • 70%: Not doing anything else, just listening.
  • 59%: Doing household work or chores.
  • 52%: Driving
  • 51%: Relaxing before going to sleep

“This is a watershed moment in the history of podcasting.”

51% of those surveyed have “Ever” listened to a podcast.

How to grow that number (“cume” in ratings lingo) and Time Spent Listening?  Among reasons those-surveyed who are “Aware” of podcasting but aren’t listening:

  • 75%: Podcasts “just aren’t for you.”  Tom figures that “with 700,000 podcasts” out there, “they haven’t been given the reason” via promotion.
  • 51%: “Not enough time”
  • 49%: Podcasts “don’t provide anything that you can’t already find elsewhere” demonstrates a perception that “podcasts are the same thing as radio, except as on-demand.”
  • 40%: “Too long,” affirming conventional wisdom that shorter-is-better.

Among other reasons cited: 38% “You have to pay to subscribe.”  Webster infers that “For most people, when you say ‘subscribe to a podcast,’ they think of it like subscribing to Netflix or a magazine…you’re going to have to pay money.”

Want more clicks?

  • Address those objections, and others you’ll hear explained in the full presentation, as you promote podcasts.  Two tips…
  • Top two responses to “You would listen to more podcasts if…” are “more podcasts on topics interested in” and “a well-known personality had a podcast.”
  • And note on the presentation chart “Sources Used at Least ‘Occasionally’ to Discover Podcasts:” Recommendations from/Ads on AM/FM radio stations: 46%.  Webster reckons “cross-promotion is the secret sauce.”

Can this make money?

“When you hear advertisements on podcasts, how likely are you to consider the brand advertised?”

  • 17%: Much more likely.
  • 37%: Somewhat more likely.
  • 39%: Neither likely nor unlikely.
  • 3%: Somewhat less likely.
  • 4%: Much less likely.

Check my math: 17% + 37% = 54% “Much” + “Somewhat more” likely = opportunity, one we’re exploiting at client stations with packages that include:

  • “Ask The Expert” shows, or pay-for-play interviews, which we…
  • Repurpose as podcasts, on the station’s or the client’s web site, of which we…
  • Invite consumption via click-to-listen links to the station’s/advertisers’ Facebook/Twitter followers.  And from which we…
  • Excerpt sound bites for on-air shortform (spots and promos for podcasts/Ask The Expert shows).

Not-doing-so would seem to leave money on the table.  Tom Webster says “the people who are discovering podcasting are discovering more than one.  And people who have listened for years are listening more.”  And podcasts are the audio podcast listeners consume most.

Wider-angle shot: My recent Talkers Monday Memo, notes from Edison’s “Infinite Dial 2019” research:

Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Holland Cooke: Greatest Hits” from Talkers Books.  Click the ad banner in the right-hand column on this page.  And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America.  Read HC’s Monday Memo each week at, and follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice