Podcast Devotees: Educated, Young and Using Mobile to Listen

New Study From Westwood One Presents Key Demo Facts About the Mostly Mysterious Audience

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Little is known about podcasting's audience, a group that supposedly offers enviable levels of engagement and prime ears for audio ads.

But a new study from radio network Westwood One sheds a little light on the presumed audience for podcast programming just in time for the Interactive Advertising Bureau's podcast upfront showcase today. The event will feature presentations from ESPN, AdLarge, Midroll, NPR, Panoply, Podtrac and WNYC and will offer a preview on "the latest in innovative podcast programming."

For its "State of American Podcasting," Westwood One used several sources including an Ipsos custom study from last month and Edison's "Share of Ear" quarterly study. Westwood One had Edison create a cross tabulation of 500 podcast listeners using three recent studies. That showed the audio source, time of day, demographic profile, devices used to listen and types of content used by consumers.

Podcasting data has mostly been limited to iTunes downloads, which don't provide answers to the most basic questions about listeners, Westwood One CMO Pierre Bouvard said, adding that the point of the study was to answer, "How many, how often and how long."

"In the history of digital media, I don't think there has ever been a new digital platform that has so little audience data," Mr. Bouvard said. "It causes quite a bit of consternation among everyone in the ecosystem."

The study found the following:

  • Podcast listeners' median age is 30, versus 45 for AM/FM radio and 57 for broadcast television networks.

"That's young," Mr. Bouvard said. "This is definitely driven by millennials."

  • Podcast listeners are employed, educated and have more kids in the household compared to the total U.S. sample. In fact, 61% of podcast listeners work part or full-time, and 55% have some college education or are college graduates.
  • Half of total time spent listening to podcasts occurs on mobile phones, followed by one-third on computers. In contrast, half of total audio consumption time occurs on AM/FM devices.
  • Midday and nights are podcasting "primetime." The breakdown of listening is as follows: 29% from 7 p.m. to midnight; 29% from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 20% from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m; and 17% from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

"Our traditional view of prime time and radio is 'drive time' or morning and afternoon," Mr. Bouvard said. "What's really interesting is that night is prime time [for podcast listeners.] Most of listening is done at home, followed by work."

  • Personalities and talk shows are the leading content consumed by podcast listeners, taking up 66% of total podcast listening, followed by news podcasts with 22%.

"This is a spoken word," Mr. Bouvard said. "People aren't listening to Pandora or robots. They're interested in people talking. ... This is a medium that lets you follow your passion, whatever that might be."

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