Podcast Growth

Unusual but Achievable Podcast Growth Through Smart Media

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Podcast Growth

Last week, Edison Research and Triton Digital published the results of their latest consumer digital media survey. This is their 25th study in this series and it contains an expanded section on podcasting and the use of smart speakers. The bottom line is podcast growth is still on the rise. Here are a few highlights and questions that were answered.

How Much of Your Podcast Do Listeners Actually Listen To

Podcast stats are important, especially when it comes to having social proof for those all-important sponsors. Stats are usually measured by downloads or subscribers, but how do you know how much of your podcast is actually being listened to?

Edison and Triton decided that the best way to find the answer to this question was to ask, and the answer is surprisingly good news for podcasters. 40% of the respondents said they listen all the way through the entire podcast. While 45% of listeners said they listen to most of the podcast, so take heart podcasters, your hard work is not in vain.

Bonus Stat for Advertiser’s in 2017

85% of your podcast audience will hear pre-roll and mid-roll ads and half will hear post-roll ads. Take that to the bank.

Podcast Ads

New Ways to Listen are Making Their Mark

We talked about this in our article about streaming media creating more podcast opportunities and the trend is still on the rise. Average weekly time spent listening to online radio rose 21% from 2016 to 2017. This included Spotify increasing its reach from 13% to 18% and iHeartRadio grew from 14% to 19%.

In our previous article about podcast advertising, we mentioned that increasing your reach by getting your podcast in front of more ears or eyeballs in some cases is a good way to increase stats and sponsorship opportunities.

That advice still holds true with YouTube having a 91% reach in the 12-24 year old group and 43% overall. Setting up a camera and creating a YouTube version of your podcast can add an extra distribution channel to reach a new demographic.

More People Have Access to Podcasts

There was a time when hardcore podcast listeners had a dedicated iPod that they hooked to their computer to update and download podcasts for listening to while at work or play. This required technological know-how, and it was a hassle.

Fortunately, the ubiquitous smartphone has made podcast listening extremely simple even for those who have never downloaded anything from their computer to their phone. In 2017, 81% of those surveyed owned a smartphone. That is up from 76% in 2016. Eight years prior in 2009, only 10% owned a smartphone.

Smartphone Ownership

Smart Speakers Aren’t Going Away

In our streaming media article we also touched upon smart speakers and how to listen to podcasts using your Echo or Alexa equipped smart speaker. The Echo was also Amazon’s best-selling product over the busy Christmas season.

According to the survey, 57% are aware of the Amazon Alexa smart speaker while 45% are aware of the Google Home smart speaker, and 63% are aware of one or the other.

In spite of this awareness, only 5% own Alexa and 2% own Google Home, with 7% owning one or the other.

This leaves a tremendous amount of growth in a technology that is only going to improve and incorporate podcast offerings along the way.

Mobile Media is Literally Mobile

When asked about online radio listening, specifically if they have listened to Internet radio by plugging their phone in their car audio system there was a 40% positive response up 3% from 2016.

Along those same lines, when asked about audio brand awareness Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Spotify took the top three positions with Amazon Music and Google Play ranking 4th and 5th followed by Napster.

These brands along with all of the other ones listed in the survey will continue to make podcasts easier to find and listen to.

Mobile Podcast Listening

Number of Podcasts Listened to in Last Week

When asked about the number of podcasts listened to per week, the average number was five. That is a pretty solid number considering many podcasts can be close to an hour long. It is also a small amount compared to the sheer number of podcasts that exist.

What does this mean for podcast producers? Quality matters. Find your audience and then cater to their needs and try to make sure that you are in their top five. Being in or at least producing content as good or better than the content in the top five should be a worthwhile goal.

It may take awhile for listeners to find you, but without great content they won’t stick around anyway. Aiming for the top five can be a great benchmark when auditing your podcast.

Podcast Listening Device

It’s no surprise that podcast listening on computers is decreasing and smartphone and portable device listening is increasing. Availability, ease of use, and portability all contribute to these factors. From 2015 to 2017 the use of portable devices for podcasts has increased 10%.

Podcast Listening Locations

Locations for listening to podcasts also revealed some interesting results. It’s no surprise that 80% were listened to at home. Podcasts are perfect for doing household chores or sitting on the porch relaxing.

Next was 47% in a vehicle and 29% at work. Not wasting commute times or paid time doing tedious mundane tasks is the perfect use of the ubiquitous podcast. These were closely followed by walking, working out, and riding public transportation.


The Most Popular Method of Listening to Podcasts

  • 77% Click and Listen Immediately

There were three options here. The most popular method was to click on the podcast and listen immediately, which coincides with the convenience of streaming. Which seems to be the direction that podcast listening is going.

  • 41% Download Manually and Listen Later

Downloading manually and listening later came in a distant second. This old-school method is still being used, but it is not as popular as the immediate options.

  • 27% Subscribe to Automatic Downloads and Listen Later

Surprisingly, subscribing and downloading automatically for later listening was a distant third. Having hard core fans who are subscribed to your every show can be a great way to ensure downloads and hope for listens, but it is not as popular as once thought.

One interesting caveat about subscriber downloads is that 52% of people who regularly download podcasts listen to them, and the average number of podcasts that listeners subscribe to are six. So subscriptions are still important but there are emerging methods that make podcast listening easier.  

It’s nice to know that podcasts are more popular than ever. The methods and trends of listening continue to evolve and change just like the technology. As well as the quality and subject matter of popular content. Learning about the results of these surveys is a good way to keep abreast of some of podcasting’s most interesting trends year-after-year.