Media & Entertainment

Press Play: Podcasts are Getting Air Time

Image Credit: Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

When it comes to media, it seems that every outlet has its fifteen minutes of fame. And recently, podcasts seem to be having their moment in the spotlight. A modern twist on the retro classic, the radio, podcasts give listeners an opportunity to explore different topics of interest more closely, from the comfort of their earbuds. In order to take the pulse of podcast fandom, CivicScience asked 2,334 respondents about their experience with this medium.

While 76% of respondents said they do not currently listen to podcasts, 24% do. It may not be a majority, but it is a strong enough subset to consider podcasts a trending topic across the country.

Of those who do listen to podcasts, frequency varies. The largest subset listens weekly, a cadence that could correspond to when a new episode is released. However, not far behind are those who listen daily.

Given the portable nature of a podcast, it’s possible that those who listen more regularly have found a way to incorporate their favorite podcasts into their daily or weekly routine, perhaps during a commute or while working out.

The data supports this, as it shows daily podcast listeners do like to multitask with their technology.

Men are Tuning In

Podcast topics cover any and everything you could imagine. So it is worth noting that men take a slight lead in those who listen more frequently, outweighing daily and weekly women listeners.

(Some) Jobs and Podcasts Go Hand in Hand

While there are a variety of factors that could influence podcast listening frequency, occupation could be one of them. Professionals and managers, those with potentially regular commutes, take the lead with daily listening. Those in service roles find the time to listen monthly, while retirees are most likely to never listen.

Podcasts and Life Stage

The occupation-based differences suggest that podcast consumption frequency may also correlate to life stage. As it turns out, frequency generally decreases as age increases. While daily listeners are largely from the 18-34 set, rare or non-listeners are primarily 45+.

This presents an interesting question: what is it about podcasts that the primary listeners have not yet reached middle age?

Kids could be part of the answer. According to the data, podcast listeners tend to be neither parents nor grandparents, while those are exactly the demographics that have the highest percentages of rarely or never listening in.

Podcasts Appeal to Streamers

Another factor that could play a role in determining who listens to podcasts and how frequently they do so is general interest in streaming services. Those who do subscribe to some form of video streaming, for example, make up 88% of those who listen to podcasts daily.

This correlation could indicate that those already familiar with the concept and practice of streaming services can easily adapt to the process of subscribing and listening to a podcast series. The difference here is that while streaming services like Netflix charge a fee, podcasts are typically free.

Does Money Matter?

Speaking of money, podcast listening spans all income levels.

Based on the data above, it would appear that podcast listenership is largely young male professionals without kids. This is a highly specific demographic, one that, in many ways, seems to carry a certain amount of privilege. Yet, it is important to keep in mind that, in the greater scheme of media, podcasts are still in their infancy.

With time, and as the medium continues to attract new fans, especially from younger crowds, we can expect that listener demographic to evolve, to more accurately represent the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives that make the world of podcasts impossible to ignore.

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