The Infinite Dial report, a survey conducted by Edison Research and Triton Digital, is the most popular databank and survey on the state of digital media consumption in the United States, especially audio.
Infinite Dial has been conducted phone-based surveys since 1998, including podcasts since 2006–that means since nearly the inception of podcasting, making this incredibly valuable data. The respondent pool of 1500 is composed of people aged twelve and over, weighted against the US census data for population, and split proportionally between landlines and cell phones.
Podcast Awareness and Consumption Flourishes
Podcasting saw incredible growth across the board in every arena, from familiarity to consumption.
“Familiarity” doesn’t necessarily mean that the respondent has listened to a podcast, or even really knows how podcasts work, but that they have been exposed to the term. As podcasts grow in their references in more traditional media and enter general conversations, so too will we see growth in familiarity; it’s a good benchmark for analyzing entry into the mainstream consciousness and out of the podcaster bubble. Indeed, this year, familiarity continues to rise at a rapid pace, with 7 in 10 Americans now aware of the term “podcast”.
Infinite Dial analyzes listenership in steps: have ever listened to a podcast, monthly, and weekly. The gap between listenership and familiarity has often seemed insurmountable–how do we get the people who are familiar with the term to become interested in trying a podcast, or invested enough to learn how to listen? What kind of tools can we use to get them there?
Infinite Dial’s work in studying listenership is key to knowing what kind of work the industry has ahead of them. This year saw the amount of people who have ever listened to a podcast cross the 50% mark for the first time, starting to close the gap between listenership and familiarity with a remarkable 6% leap (an accelerating rate, as compared to the average growth of 3-4% from previous years).
Both monthly and weekly listenership grew as well. In fact, this year’s 32% in monthly listening was the largest percentage point gain yet; weekly listening was similar to previous years with a 4% point gain. This means there are an estimated 17 million more monthly listeners and 14 million more weekly listeners in the United States than in 2018.
Monthly listenership is also broken down by demographics, which all saw significant increases–especially, it must be said, in the age range of 12-34, which grew by a whopping 10%. The segmentation of demographics in Infinite Dial’s monthly listenership continues to show a steep drop-off once it hits the 55+ range, even though that bracket does continue to increase their engagement.
College-aged students and young professions are a major target audience the podcast industry, and, anecdotally, 2018 produced more podcasts aimed at children and families with children, so this large percentage increase is not a surprise.
Some Online Audio Statistical Considerations
Infinite Dial’s “online audio” term refers to streamed AM/FM radio and any other streaming audio available online. Online audio listening has gone up across the board, especially in the 55+ age bracket. There was generally an increase in the listenership for spoken word audio across the board, between podcasts and audiobooks. Audiobook listening (“% ever listened to an audiobook”) saw a similar increase to podcasting, also breaking 50% of people who have ever listened to an audiobook.
What should not be ignored when thinking about podcasting’s reach is Spotify’s growth as a recognizable audio brand, and how this plays into the podcasting surge. Spotify had increased monthly listening by American audiences (24%, up fro 20%) and especially by those people in the 12-34 age bracket.
This jump of 7% can be seen reflected in the focus question of what percentage of the same bracket, who listened to Spotify within the last month, listened to podcasts on Spotify — 53%, quite a leap from 32%..
The biggest takeaway for advertisers is certainly that podcast listenership is growing steadily, and is not showing signs of plateauing; in fact, some demographics, it is clearly accelerating. Advertisers may also care about the stability of how many podcasts per week people listen to on average (seven). This is good news for independent podcasters who are still looking for sustainable monetization via advertising.
The next biggest takeaway is that Spotify is a serious boon for listenership, and it seems likely that many of those new listeners who have ever listened to a podcast may have done so because of Spotify. This puts the Spotify-Gimlet-Anchor deal in a different light, even if not surprising to some; having the data to clarify and verify is useful and needed to be able to speak to whether Spotify’s audience will actually sustain their future premium podcasts platform. And that does seem even more likely now. At the very least, podcasters: get your podcasts on Spotify if you haven’t already.
Edison Research also releases a Podcast Consumer Report in the spring, which will take a closer look at data highly relevant to podcasters and their community. You can access the full Infinite Dial report here, and stay tuned for the Infinite Dial reports for Australia and Canada later this year.
More Podcast Stats…
We’re partial to a bit of industry related numbers and data here at The Podcast Host, and occasionally run our own surveys and research projects too.
In 2018 we published Podcasting Gear Stats: The Most Popular Equipment, Software & Tools
Here, we wanted to find out, what gear podcasters were using. Not only that, but what tools, what software, what gadgets? That’s what led to the Grand Gear Survey of 2018
Then we ran the 2019 survey on the subject of “podcast discoverability”, publishing our results of how listeners actually discover their favourite shows. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to grow an audience because highlights the most effective areas to concentrate on when it comes to promotion and marketing.
We’re always looking to run interesting new surveys too, so if there’s any specific podcast data you’d like to see here in future be sure to give us a shout!