Edison Research Finds Podcast Listening Habits Changing During COVID (Q2 Update)

Our day to day has become a lot less coffees with friends, and a lot more zoom calls with family. Less hitting the gym, more hitting the freezer for another pint of ice cream (at least that’s my new normal).

Nothing right now could be categorized as ‘normal’.

Our podcast listening habits are no different.

This week’s Edison Research webinar Listening Habits During Quarantine offered a fascinating glimpse into how the past 2 quarters have impact podcast listening. Here’s a summary of the webinar.

The headline is that we are still spending much more time at home than we have ever been before, and much less time commuting.

To explain why, i’m going to go in reverse order from how the information was presented, because I think that it’s the most exciting/interesting news for those in the podcasting world.

Share of ear

Tom Webster, SVP of Edison Research reported on how Americans allocate the time spent listening to audio.

In 2014 the report showed that of those Americans who consumed audio, 51% of their time was spent listening to AM/FM content (which was roughly 4 hours a day), while 2% of their time was spent listening to Podcasts. This meant that for every hour spent listening to a podcast, we were listening to 25 hours of AM/FM content.

Fast forward to today. In 2020 42% of our audio listening time was spent consuming AM/FM content, while 5% was spent listening to a podcast. Now for every hour spent listening to a podcast, we are only listening to 8 hours of AM/FM content. This represents 150% growth for podcasts, and a decline in AM/FM content.

And it makes sense why:

  1. The vast majority of us are still in COVID quarantine, meaning we are spending less time commuting. I know for me, my commute is from our bedroom downstairs to our kitchen upstairs. Maybe 20 seconds (depends on how much ice cream I had the night before).

  2. I would argue that the podcast content keeps getting better and better. Podcasts allow you to sink down the rabbit hole of your particular niche topic in a way that AM/FM content will never allow you. Tucking into hour after hour of rich, serialized content gives you much more freedom versus being at the mercy of the radio’s schedule.

When you look at the time of day we have started listening to audio, our new life at home becomes much more apparent.

Learn how to measure the ROI of your podcast.

Shift in time listening

Pre-COVID, 50% of listeners began consuming audio at 7:15 am (bright and early).

Since COVID this time has shifted to 8:30 am.

If this means we are sleeping in, I did not get that memo (and my toddler DEFINITELY did not get that memo).

The reality is that it’s all about our commute. Take the commute out of the equation and we become much different consumers of audio content.

And the changes keep coming. But first, a free offer…

We’re consuming more podcast content

With more than 4 in 10 of podcast listeners having had their lives interrupted:

  • 64% of those who used to work at home a little now say they are are working from home more

  • 17% say they are working at home the same amount as before

  • 16% who never worked at home before are doing it now

…this means we have time to spend on ourselves and listen to more podcasts.

Or does it?

Of those who had their work eliminated or hours reduced, they listened to an average of 6 hours and 35 mins in Q2, compared to those who were newly working from home who could only consume 5 hours and 22 minutes of podcast content. We were really suffering with that lack of “me time” what with the kids running around, sharing the house with a partner or roommate, and general pandemic anxiety gripping all of us. And that “me time” is key to what makes podcasting such a great medium for marketers.

But humans are meant to adapt. And adapt we have.

As time has has gone on we have found ways to integrate podcast listening into our new daily habits. As such we are seeing an increase of overall listen time (across all polled) from 6 hours and 15 mins in Q1 to 6 hours and 45 mins in Q2 – that’s a whole 30 mins…or an entire episode of your favourite show!

So while the pandemic has uprooted our lives and changed our listening habits our love for gripping stories and engaging content keeps us coming back for the next great show and listenership continues to grow.

The future looks bright. We’re excited to be a part of it. If you want to join us reach out to us by using the form below.

Roger Nairn is the Co-Founder and CEO of JAR Audio.


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