How Are Folks Today Actually Consuming Podcasts?

The when, where, and how of real-life listeners.

If you’re looking to release your own branded podcast, it’s important to have a grasp on the actual habits of everyday fans and consumers.

Why? Because they should be the reason you’re making your show.

In this post, we dive into the latest data around podcast consumption — so you can create a successful series that actually considers the folks who matter most.

We’ll explore…

  • When listeners tune in

  • How often they’re listening

  • What devices they use to listen

  • How many podcasts they listen to

  • And how often they choose podcasts over other forms of audio

This data will help you…

  • Understand listener habits

  • Market and promote with confidence

  • Build content that works for real people

  • And justify the expense of your own branded show

Let’s dive into the latest data for creators in the know.

When do listeners tune into podcasts?

One of the most important answers to this question has nothing to do with time of day…

As we’ve discussed before, a huge percentage of listeners choose to tune into podcasts when they’re doing something else.

There’s no doubt about it, folks today love to multitask, and this is one of the reasons podcasts really stand out.

When it comes to content marketing, and our enthusiasm for media consumption, productivity and growth, the podcast offers something other mediums don’t.

Newsletters, blog posts, and infographics are great, but they simply don’t fit as well into our real lives, or days that feel like they’re “go go go.”

Your audience wants to be able to consume your content when they’re walking their dog, cleaning their house, or making their way through their daily workout.

How do we know? Well, the statistics speak for themselves.

In a survey of more than 4000 listeners in the US, 71% of respondents over 18 listed “multitasking” as their primary reason for listening to spoken audio.

 

So, we’ve established that podcast listeners like to listen to podcasts while they have something else on the go — but at what time do they tune into their favorite shows?

Historically, the data suggests that the podcast’s peak hours were in the morning and evening, or before and after work.

But lately, and in the wake of the pandemic, these habits have changed.

As our work-life balance shifted, and many of us started to work from home, our love of multitasking and brand new circumstances created the perfect storm.

Now, listeners are tuning in throughout the day, with many folks consuming their favorite audio content while they’re on the job.

Last year, Semrush reported that peak listening hours were between 10am and 3pm and, while we do expect this to shift as the pandemic (hopefully) comes to a close, it’s undeniable that many of our lives and jobs are changed for the long haul.

Learn how to measure the ROI of your podcast. 

How often do folks listen to podcasts?

When it comes to how often folks listen to podcasts, the short answer is “a lot.

This is a medium that’s shown explosive growth over recent years and, while it does fluctuate as our habits and lifestyles change, the data suggests it will continue to grow.

Let’s take a look at the most recent numbers Edison Research shared in their annual report, The Infinite Dial.

Looking at folks in the US over 18, it found that….

  • 38% of podcasts listeners tune in monthly

  • 26% listen weekly

  • And 17% of weekly listeners are enjoying 11 or more episodes per week

While the figures for weekly and monthly listening have decreased marginally since 2020, Edison’s Tom Webster credits this to listeners aged 12 to 34 — a demographic that’s returning to school and more conventional types of work.

What device do podcast listeners favor?

The Infinite Dial also took a close look at the electronic devices folks use to enjoy their favorite shows.

Smartphones continue to wildly outpace desktops and laptops — with most listeners tuning in on their phones whether they’re at home, or out and about.

By the fourth quarter of 2021, 73% of listeners reported smartphone consumption, while just 13% say they usually listen on their computer.

Where are podcast listeners tuning in?

When it comes to the location of listeners, more than half of survey respondents said they usually listen at home, while less than a quarter favor listening in their cars.

That said, we did see these scales tip slightly as we moved into the fourth quarter — presumably a result of getting back to normal and spending more time out of the house.

How does podcast consumption compare to other forms of audio?

Looking to the 2021 Spoken Word Audio Report, we can see how podcasts stack up against other forms of spoken audio.

Last year, here’s where the stats landed…

  • 48% favored radio

  • 22% prefer podcasts

  • 10% listen mostly to audiobooks

  • And the remaining 20% favor other spoken media

Compared against all audio sources, including music, Edison found that podcasts accounted for 5% of all listening time last year. 

Here to stay

Given all of the above, it’s pretty clear that the podcast is here to stay.

Versatility, popularity, and flexibility have made this the ideal medium for brands looking to connect with an increasingly busy, distracted, and discerning audience.

Companies creating podcasts have the opportunity not only to build a loyal community — but to offer something of substance to the folks who matter most.

Want to learn more about podcast listeners? Explore the podcast consumption stats all brands should know. 

Learn how to measure the ROI of your podcast.