Podcasting is no longer a niche medium. Originally the domain of comedians and "how to" experts, podcasts were given a huge boost in 2014 by the first series of Serial. This widely acclaimed series broke records as the fastest podcast ever to reach 5 million downloads on Apple's iTunes store but was surpassed in 2017 by their spin off series, S-Town, which achieved 40 million global downloads within the first month of release.
We are now entering the age of the celebrity podcast with the likes of Conan O'Brien, Alec Baldwin, Amy Schumer, and Snoop Dogg all getting in on the act. Here in Canada the CBC produces over 100 different podcasts and each of the other major radio broadcasters have launched their own divisions dedicated to podcast production. At the time of writing, Peter Mansbridge tops the charts with his nightly podcast exploring the developments in Canada's 2019 federal election. But how much has podcast listening grown? Who's listening and how often? Has the surge in smart speakers driven this desire for the spoken word? The Media Technology Monitor (MTM), the leading study in media technology use in Canada, can give us more insight into this phenomenon.
How much has podcast listening grown?
We can see that podcast listening had a bit of a slow start and even took a dip in 2012 but over the past few years it has seen significant growth in the number of users, particularly among the 18-34 age group. Almost 40% of 18-34 in 2019 said that they have listened to a podcast in the last month.
Who is listening to podcasts?
The gender split of podcast listeners is very even however we can see in the Spring 2019 MTM data that almost half of Canadians who listen to podcasts are aged between 18 and 34. The data also agrees with previous studies showing that 60% of listeners have at least some university education.
How many podcasts do people listen to?
Quite a lot as it turns out. According to the Fall 2018 MTM survey 45% of adults who listen to podcasts listen to over 3 in a typical week and almost 30% of 18-34's listen to more than 6 podcasts per week.
Where and how are Canadians listening to podcasts?
Most Canadians are listening to podcasts through YouTube with just over 1/4 of them using a podcast app. These figures are skewed by the older age groups with 30% of 18-34's listening through an app and 18% through Spotify.
The vast majority of adults (95%) who source their podcasts through an app will listen to them through a smart phone. As yet smart speakers are not being used to listen to podcasts with only 2% of this same group using them.
Does podcast listening impact radio listening?
MTM data shows that despite podcast listeners consuming slightly less radio on a regular receiver they do consume more audio content overall. They stream almost an hour more of AM/FM radio stations online per week than those who don't listen to podcasts. They also listen to 50% more hours of music from a streaming service compared to the population in general.
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