Watercooler: Podcasts Are The New ‘Easy Listening’


Five years ago, pre-podcast era, consumers lacked a constant stream of audio entertainment and information that was not only work-friendly, but welcomed during shopping trips, workouts at the gym, long (and short) drives, and for background dialogue while cleaning or performing other miscellaneous household tasks. (Come to think of it—what did we do with our quiet time before podcasts?) To avoid sitting in silence, or the opposite—being distracted by a noisy workplace—the only choice was to listen to music or, perhaps, download an audiobook for a small fee.

Contributing further to the ubiquitous nature of technology, podcasts offer consumers the unique benefit of listening at any time, so long as there’s internet access. If you started listening to an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience and the workday ended, no worries—you could put it on pause and finish listening the next day or later on your drive home or while drifting to sleep. Podcasts offer unprecedented communication between brands and consumers, and, not only add a more human side to companies—some hosts, for instance, add a humorous spin to their shows, and others, a more sarcastic tone—but they invite consumers to form relationships with the brand. Just as they look forward to eating dinner with friends every Saturday night or cozying up for the latest episode of their favorite TV series, they’ll look forward to podcasts and listening to what a certain brand has to say. And guess what else podcasts are becoming known for? Branded merch, from apparel and pins to keychains, mugs, can coolers and everything in between.

So, how popular is popular?

  • Worldwide, there are more than 700,000 active podcasts and more than 29 million episodes in over 100 languages
  • 70 percent of Americans (about 175 million people) are familiar with the term “podcasting”
  • 51 percent, or 127.5 million people, have listened to a podcast
  • 32 percent, or 80 million people, listen to podcasts every month
  • 22 percent, about 55 million people, listen to podcasts every week
  • 6 percent, or 15 million people, consider themselves avid podcast listeners

Who is the average listener?

  • 18 percent are 18-24
  • 28 percent are 25-34
  • 21 percent are 35-44
  • 16 percent are 45-54
  • 11 percent are 55-64
  • 6 percent are 65+
  • 52 percent are male, 48 percent are female
  • 32 percent earn an annual income of $75,000 and higher; 37 percent earn $100,000 and higher; and 45 percent earn $250,000 and higher

Where do they listen to podcasts?

  • 49 percent listen to podcasts at home
  • 22 percent listen while driving
  • 11 percent listen at work
  • 4 percent listen while riding public transportation
  • 3 percent listen while walking
  • 7 percent listen during other situations

Sources:  Nielsen and Edison

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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