Milestone: More Than Half of the US Population Has Listened to a Podcast

March 18, 2019

The tide of online audio listening continues to rise. In fact, two-thirds (67%) of Americans aged 12 and older now listen to online audio on a monthly basis and 60% report that they listen to online audio on a weekly basis, according to the newest edition of the annual Infinite Dial report.

Online audio refers to listening to AM/FM radio stations online and/or listening to streamed audio content available only on the internet.

When looking at monthly online audio reach by age group, each has seen a gradual increase in listening over the past year. Nine in 10 (91%) of those aged 12-24 listen to online audio monthly, making them the age group which listens to online audio the most.

Roughly three-quarters (74%) of Americans aged 25-54 listen to online audio monthly. While the age group of 55 and older are the group who listens to online audio the least, they are actually the bracket that has seen the greatest percentage point increase, going from 33% in 2018 to 40% this year. That tracks with data from MarketingCharts’ latest Media Audience Demographics report, which finds that middle-aged and older adults are now more apt than ever to be tuning in to internet radio.

Podcast Familiarity, Listening on the Rise

Just as online audio listening continue to grow, so has podcast familiarity. Some 70% of respondents ages 12 and older are familiar with podcasts, up from 64% last year. And in a new milestone, more than half (51%) of the respondents report ever listening to a podcast, up from 44% from last year.

Other research has shown that the top three places listeners are finding podcasts are through social media, word of mouth and from other podcasts. They are listening to these podcasts on smartphones more than any other device. In fact, adults are listening to podcasts more on smartphones than all other devices combined.

The trend for podcast listening seems to be accelerating, too, increasing more this year than in the past couple years. These latest figures reveal that:

  • Nearly one-third (32%) listened to a podcast in the month prior to the survey, up from 26% last year; and
  • Almost one-quarter (22%) listened in the week prior to the survey, up from 17% last year.

Among weekly podcast listeners, fully 84% listen to multiple podcasts during the week, with an average of 7 listened per week.

Podcast listening has risen across genders, although men (36%) are still listening to podcasts more than women (29%).

Among age groups, 12-24-year-olds (40%) and 25-54-year-olds (39%) are about even in their propensity to tune in monthly. The percentage of those respondents ages 55 and older listening with that frequency has increased to 17%, up from 13% last year.

Other Survey Findings

Separate findings from the report indicate that:

  • Pandora remains the clear digital audio brand leader in terms of awareness (89% of respondents aged 12 and up), followed by iHeartRadio (74%) and Amazon Music (74%) as recent figures from Nielsen show that on-demand streaming continues to increase;
  • Some 30% of survey respondents tuned in to Pandora during the month prior to the survey, compared to 24% for Spotify and 13% for iHeartRadio, but Spotify and iHeartRadio are the fastest-growing sources;
  • While only 9% of streaming audio listeners say they listen to Amazon Music most often, that figure almost doubles to 16% among Smart Speaker owners;
  • Half (50%) of respondents used YouTube to watch music videos or listen to music during the week prior to the survey, up from 46% last year;
  • Among respondents aged 18 and up who had driven or ridden in a car in the month prior to the survey, AM/FM radio was the top medium for listening (81%, dropping slightly from last year), followed by owned digital music (45%, holding steady for the past three years), CD player (43%, dropping from 49% last year), online radio (28%, flat) and podcasts (26% up from 23%); and
  • AM/FM continues to be the audio source used most often in the car, by 52% of respondents.

About the Data: The results are based on a national telephone survey conducted in January and February 2019 of 1,500 people aged 12 and older using random digit dialing techniques to both cell phones and landlines. The survey was offered in both English and Spanish and the results were weighted to national 12+ population figures.

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