Three Facts About Podcast Listening in 2021

Plus, three action items for your next campaign.

Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

Back in 2016, 57 million Americans were monthly podcast listeners. Flash forward a few years and that number has more than doubled to 116 million, or 41% of the population. 

A lot has changed in 5 years, and as podcast listening becomes more mainstream, the audience will continue to evolve along with it. One major takeaway from the 2021 Infinite Dial, the demographics of the podcast listener are looking more and more like a reflection of the U.S. population. That means more opportunities to find not just an audience, but the right audience. 

Here are three things we want you to know about today’s podcast listener, and three ways to put this intel into action for your next campaign.

Podcast listeners divide their time across multiple shows

With a little more free time on their hands, listeners made their podcast habit a part of their weekly routines. Weekly podcast listening saw its biggest jump since 2019, growing 17% in 1 year to 80 million Americans. 

These listeners are hooked, consuming an average of 8 podcasts a week – up from 7 last year. Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) of those listeners have listened to at least 6 podcasts in the last week. In his live presentation, Edison Research’s Tom Webster made it clear that these were podcast episodes, more specifically

So how many shows are they engaging with regularly? Weekly podcast listeners averaged 5.1 shows in the last week according to this year’s study.

The action item: Advertising across many shows and podcast publishers works better than sticking with just a few content sources. Podsights data shows that households exposed across multiple podcasts converted 2.4 times more often than households exposed to only 1-2 podcasts.

Diversity in podcasting is improving

Audience diversity made huge gains this year. Over 4 in 10 monthly listeners (43%) are non-white – looking more like the demographic make-up of the U.S. population. That figure was just 32% two years ago. The share of female listeners also hit an all-time high in 2021, again closely mirroring the U.S. population.

What’s driving that growth in diverse listenership? The overwhelming majority of young listeners. 56% of the U.S. population aged 12-34 listened to a podcast in the past month, up from 49% last year. 

Older audiences should also not be ignored. Monthly listeners 55+ saw growth this past year and out of the 116 million who listened last month, 24 million are in this demo.

The action item: Will your messaging resonate with this audience, or miss the mark? We recommend talking points vs. hard and fast scripts so the host can speak to their listeners directly and authentically. 

The podcast audience is no longer niche

Podcasting’s growth has been pacing at a steady rate which surprisingly continued despite a global pandemic – a testament to the medium’s staying power. With 116 million monthly listeners, podcasting’s reach is more mainstream than ever. Not to mention that the top-ranking podcasts have a weekly reach that’s in the millions.

We have not reached the ceiling yet either, there is still plenty of room to grow. There are currently 60 million Americans who have heard of podcasts but have not listened yet. That gap between awareness and ever listened is closing in as awareness begins to level off.

The action item: Tap the potential reach of podcasting and the power of host reads with Dynamic ad insertion (DAI). DAI technology also makes audience targeting, as well as impression and pixel tracking possible.

Bookmark the infographic below, and always have these stats on hand!

Keep me handy!
From finding the perfect host to endorse your product, to reaching the most receptive audience, and bringing it all home with best-in-class tools to track results, team cabana is here to help guide you every step of the way. Come say hello to learn more.
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