Big Orange — The Audio Agency

Vital Info: Podcast Consumption Statistics All Brands Should Know

written by our Canadian Podcast Partner Jar Audio

It’s no secret that podcasts are on the rise. In fact, as of April of this year, there are more than 2 million shows available worldwide — or over 48 million episodes in total. Unsurprisingly, the explosive nature of this medium is something industry-leading brands have totally caught on to.

With companies like lululemon, Expedia, RBC, and Saje Natural Wellness all turning to podcasts to inspire teams, build brand affinity, and skyrocket growth, it’s becoming increasingly clear that — for comms savvy brands — this is an avenue well worth exploring!

In this newsletter, we take a deep dive into the vital podcast statistics any brand considering, or currently hosting, their own podcast should know.

We will answer questions including:

  • Who is listening to podcasts?
  • What podcasts are they listening to?
  • How are they listening?
  • Where are they listening?
  • And, of course, why are folks listening to (more and more) podcasts?

Because the podcast listener changes by geography, we’ll be taking a look at both the United States and Canada.

Podcast Statistics: USA

Given that the top five podcast publishers in the world are based in the US, it should come as no surprise that its citizens are avid fans — or that the country lands high on the list when it comes to overall consumption.

Let’s take a closer look at some vital stats.

Who is listening and how much?

When it comes to US podcast statistics, a recent report from Edison Researchuncovered some telling data.

It showed the following stats for folks aged 12 and up:

  • Approximately 222 million, or about 78%, are familiar with podcasts.
  • 57% have listened to at least one podcast.
  • 41% are tuning in on a monthly basis.
  • Around 80 million had listened to a podcast in the previous week.
  • Among weekly listeners, there was an average consumption of about 8 podcasts and 5.1 shows overall and only 11% of listeners stick to just one podcast.

Ultimately, the Edison report found that podcast listening is on a steady incline, as is listener consistency. Today, more folks are tuning in on a weekly basis than ever before.

Let’s take a look at the who bit next, shall we? While we can’t spill personal deets on US listeners individually, we can take a look at the demographics Edison uncovered.

Demographics based on monthly listeners aged 12 and up:

  • Age: 50% are aged 12 to 34, 29% are 35 to 54, and 21% are 55 or older.
  • Race: 57% are Caucasion, and 43% are Black, Indigenous, or people of color.
  • Gender: Of monthly listeners, 51% identify as male, 46% identify as female and 3% don’t identify as cisgender.

While podcast listeners are historically a white, male dominated population, non-male and BIPOC listeners are increasing in number — and diversity is on the rise!

Why are they listening?

In 2019, a collaborative report from Edison Research and Triton Digital explored why folks in the US listen to podcasts. Below, we’ve included a breakdown of what they found.

  • 74% listen to learn something new.
  • 71% listen to be entertained.
  • 60% listen to stay up to date.
  • 51% listen to relax.
  • 47% listen to be inspired,
  • 37% listen to escape.
  • 24% listen for companionship.

What barriers hold potential listeners back?

The same study explored why non-listeners don’t tune in to podcasts.

Here are some standout stats:

  • 33% are not sure how to listen.
  • 35% don’t know where or how to find them.
  • 38% believe there is a fee to subscribe to podcasts.
  • 32% say that there are so many podcasts, they don’t know where to start.

Shocking, right?! This is where a seasoned production team with an ironclad, medium-specific marketing strategy can really help you stand out. (That’s us!)

What platforms are most popular?

You might be wondering where folks look when they’re seeking digital audio. Well, Edison Research found that the best known platforms are Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Apple Music, and Amazon Music — in that order. That said, they reported Spotify as the most used brand and the largest single-source for online audio overall.

When it comes to podcasts specifically, we find the most commonly used platforms to be Spotify and Apple Podcasts. The analytics experts at Podtrac recently shareddata — from a survey of 1.5 billion US downloads measured in August of 2020 — that supports that.

Apple took the lead with:

  • 61.1% of all downloaded podcasts.
  • 32.4% of the total US audience.
  • The most streams and downloads.
  • The most downloads per an audience member.

Spotify is hot on Apple’s heels, however, with 24.6% of the US audience.

What devices are folks using?

In 2019, Edison examined which devices folks were using to listen to their podcasts.

  • 65% were choosing a smartphone, tablet, or other portable device.
  • 25% were using a laptop or desktop.
  • 10% opted for a smartspeaker.

More recent data indicates that, while tablets and watches have plateaued, smartphone listening continues to grow and cell phones remain the most-used device for audio-hungry content consumers.

It’s worth noting that, while smart speakers are the least-used device, they shouldn’t be overlooked entirely. Around 35% of US households feature at least one smart speaker, and around 39% of the folks who own them listen to at least one podcast each week.

What are common listening behaviors?

It’s estimated that 82.4% of podcast consumers are listening to upward of 7 hours a week — pretty die hard, if you ask us — and this is a number that’s been on a rapid incline in recent years.

Does this mean that listeners are tuning in to most episodes from start to finish? Well, let’s take a look at some numbers from Edison in 2019.

  • 52% of podcast subscribers listen to the entire episode.
  • 41% listen to most of an episode.
  • Just 7% listen to less than half.

As you can see, listeners stick around for the long haul more often than not. Here at JAR, we’re proud to report a 95 to 98% listen-through rate on several of our branded podcasts.

You’re probably wondering why folks tend to commit. Put simply, this is because podcasting is a “pull” medium as opposed to broadcast. Listeners ask for and seek out new content and are more likely to stick with an episode from start to finish.

It’s also worth noting that, with reputable apps like Spotify and Apple Podcasts, there is the option to speed up a series — a feature roughly 26% of listeners take advantage of. With upwards of seven hours of listening time, this leaves room for a whole lot of content.

Where and when are listeners tuning in?

One of the best things about the podcast is its portability. These days, more than half of listeners tune in “at places other than their home.” This is a medium that allows for a huge amount of flexibility, and effective multitasking.

According to Edison Research, of folks over 12 who have ever listened to a podcast:

  • 90% have done so at home.
  • 64% have done so in a car or truck.
  • 49% have done so while walking around or otherwise on foot.
  • 43% have done so while at a gym or working out.
  • 37% have done so at work.
  • 37% have done so on public transport.

Other favorite activities that coincide with US podcast listening include:

  • Housework
  • Relaxing before bed
  • Cooking and baking

Clearly, listeners love to tackle two things at once! We’re no exception. Folks on theJAR Audio team love to tune into their favorite podcasts while vacuuming, mowing the lawn, or doing a quick kitchen cleanup.

Podcast Statistics: Canada

Just as podcasts have been explosively popular in the US, they’ve taken a strong hold with its neighbor to the north. Just in case you didn’t know — JAR is proudly owned and operated in Canada.

But we’re not the only Canadians to go wild for podcasts. Let’s take a closer look at the stats.

Who is listening and how much?

In their deep dive into the state of podcasting in Canada, Edison Research uncovered some stats that really speak to the popularity of podcasts.

Surveying Canadians over 18, the report showed that:

  • 78% are familiar with podcasts.
  • 57% have listened to at least one podcast.
  • 38% are monthly listeners.
  • 23% had listened to a podcast in the previous week.
  • Among weekly listeners, there was an average consumption of about 5 podcasts each week and only 19% tune in to just one podcast.

Diving into the who for Canada, Edison research again uncovered some interesting stats.

Here is a breakdown of demographics based on monthly listeners aged 18 and up:

  • Age: 38% land between 18 and 34 years old, 33% are aged 35 to 54, and 29% are 55 or older.
  • Gender: Women account for 53% and men account for 47%. Unfortunately, this report made no mention of folks who aren’t cisgender.

When it comes to listening by province and territory, one study showed the highest concentration of listeners to be in BC — no surprises there — followed by Ontario and Alberta.

How does Canada compare with the US and other countries?

Interestingly, with respect to podcast listening and awareness, Canada is virtually neck and neck with the US. And, looking at Edison’s report from 2020, it quickly becomes clear that the nation is a world leader in podcast consumption.

When it came to weekly consumption in folks over 18, the report ranked these five countries as follows:

  • Canada at 24%
  • The US at 23%
  • Australia at 18%
  • Germany at 9% (as of 2019)
  • South Africa at 6% (as of 2019)

And here are the numbers for monthly consumption:

  • Canada at 37%
  • The US at 37%
  • Australia at 26%
  • Germany at 16% (as of 2019)
  • South Africa at 10% (as of 2019)

Why are they listening?

While Canadians listen to podcasts for a variety of reasons, much like folks in the US, one 2020 report identified a particular interest in celebrity podcasts. It found that of Canadians who have a favorite host, 67% were familiar with that person prior to tuning into their podcast — indicating that public personalities are a significant draw for listeners nationwide.

It also listed the most popular genres in Canada. Here are the top five:

  • Comedy
  • Society and culture
  • News
  • Arts
  • Sports

What platforms are most popular?

In its deep-dive into Canadian podcast listeners, Signal Hill Insights investigated the platforms most popular with regular podcast listeners in Canada.

Among monthly listeners aged 18 and up, the top three platforms ranked by use as follows:

  • Apple Podcasts/iTunes at 24%
  • YouTube at 23%
  • Spotify at 21%

What devices are folks using?

According to data released in 2021, 65% of folks over the age of 18 who have listened to a podcast usually use a smartphone to do so. 35% reported most often using a desktop or a laptop.

Interestingly, computer podcast listening is rising overall with an 11% reported increase since 2019.

What are common listening behaviors?

Just like folks in the US, Canadians over 18 are highly likely to listen to the majority of a podcast episode.

  • 39% of podcast subscribers listen to the entire episode.
  • 37% listen to most of an episode.
  • Just 15% report listening to less than half.

That said, Canadians seem to show a bit more potential for early abandonment. This is one of many reasons why it’s crucially important to debut your podcast with an expert production company that understands great stories and delivers listen-through rates that are top notch. (We won’t bother spelling it out!)

Where and when are listeners tuning in?

Where and when are Canadians listening to podcasts? Let’s take a look at the data from Edison Research.

Of folks over 18 who have ever listened to a podcast:

  • 83% have done so at home.
  • 36% have done so in a car or truck.
  • 35% have done so while walking around or otherwise on foot.
  • 24% have done so at work.
  • 23% have done so at the gym or while working out.
  • 21% have done so on public transport.

A compelling medium.

Ultimately, it’s pretty clear that what we’re seeing here is a compelling medium for everyone — but especially for brands invested in rock-solid affinity, exceptional content marketing, and efficient team development.

Podcasts offer a level of flexibility and functionality rivaled by no other medium, and are clearly riding a wave of exponential growth.

In next week’s newsletter, we’ll explore statistics surrounding podcasts as a marketing medium and dive even deeper into what forward thinking brands really need to know.

We love audio. It triggers fantasy. It triggers emotion. ‘Your ears are our way in’