Study: Podcast Listeners Skew Millennial, Use Lots of Social Media

A new report shared at the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual conference highlights a few potentially surprising tends. Among them: Many podcast listeners follow along on YouTube, not iTunes.

If you’re looking to reach a young, social media-savvy audience in 2019, you might want to boost your podcast game.

A new study presented at the National Association of Broadcasters’ NAB Show this week highlights that millennials ages 25 to 34 represent the largest age group for podcasts, at 33.8 percent, with older millennials and Generation Xers ages 35 to 44 not far behind at 20.1 percent. The study finds that podcast audiences skew slightly male, with a 52-48 split.

Podcasts encourage deep engagement: According to the study [PDF], the average listener keeps a podcast on for 50 minutes, with around 56 percent of respondents listening for a half-hour or longer. And listeners tend to keep an average of 3.3 podcasts in their subscription lists—though the amount of listening varies greatly, with 16.8 percent of respondents not subscribing to any podcasts at all.

According to an accompanying news release, the most popular types include those about politics and government (15 percent), followed by music (11 percent) and a variety of other categories—including interviews/conversations, comedy, sports, and nonfiction storytelling—getting between 8 and 9 percent each.

When it comes to hooking a listener, the researchers say a match of interests and authenticity is key.

“Listeners trust their podcast hosts highly, prefer host-read ads, and look for creative, informative, humorous, and integrated podcast experiences,” said the news release. “They want to listen to hosts who are authentic, feel like a friend, and share the users’ passions and beliefs.”

The report finds that podcast listeners aren’t necessarily going to traditional sources to listen, either: 70.2 percent of respondents access podcasts over YouTube, while 33.9 percent use Spotify, a service that has only recently increased its focus on podcasting. Despite the platform being named after one of its products, Apple’s podcasting platforms (iTunes and the Apple Podcasts app) came in third, at 32.6 percent. Less surprising is that nearly 80 percent of podcast listeners use a smartphone to listen in.

And while podcasts are sometimes considered an in-transit activity, the most common place where people listen is at home (a 3.9 rating out of 5 among respondents), with vehicle-based listening (2.8 out of 5), walking (2.4), and public transit (2) less common.

In addition, podcast listeners are particularly active on social media, especially YouTube (3.8 out of 5), Facebook (3.5), and Instagram (2.6). Younger audiences tend to favor Instagram, while those over age 55 are on Facebook.

The study of more than 2,000 regular podcast listeners was conducted by the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, in cooperation with the data analysis firm Futuri Media.

Lots of podcast fans are listening at home these days. (visualspace/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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