New Report Finds Podcast Listening Bolstered by Pandemic



CUMULUS MEDIA, in partnership with Signal Hill Insights, released CUMULUS MEDIA and Signal Hill Insights’ Podcast Download – Spring 2021 Report, a comprehensive evaluation incorporating several studies that examine podcast audience and advertiser trends over the past five years.

The sixth installment of the study was released to coincide with the IAB Podcast Upfront as part of CUMULUS MEDIA’s commitment to share and research findings with the podcast community. Topics covered in the Podcast Download Report include usage trends, content trends, and advertising trends, all of which evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Spring 2021 edition reveals valuable insights for content creators and advertisers. Some highlights from the report:

  • The pandemic was a podcast listening accelerant: Among weekly podcast listeners, the COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for increased podcast listening. In March 2021, 53% of weekly listeners reported spending more time with podcasts since the pandemic, up +29% from July 2020 (41%).
  • Genre exploration: Regular listenership is growing across most podcast genres, suggesting that weekly podcast listeners are venturing out and listening to new genres.
  • Eager audience with about 1 in 2 tuning in on episode drop day: Weekly podcast listeners are enthusiastic about their favorite podcasts. 46% reported listening to their favorite podcast within a day of its release.
  • Pitching ad-free podcast subscriptions won’t win over listeners: Content is the main attraction for weekly podcast listeners. When choosing podcast subscription features, weekly listeners will pick exclusive content over an ad-free experience.
  • Clubhouse is a natural brand extension for podcast shows and hosts: Awareness and usage of Clubhouse over-indexes among weekly podcast listeners versus the total U.S. general population. When asked, the majority of weekly listeners who are aware of Clubhouse agree that the app would be a good fit for their favorite podcast show or host.
  • Platforms have exploded while the big three still dominate: Weekly podcast listeners are accessing their podcasts on more platforms. Still, Apple, Spotify, and YouTube have a strong hold on being the most used podcast platforms and continue to grow at the expense of other competitors.
  • Unique need state fulfillment: Podcasts are unique, being one of the few mediums where listeners come for entertainment and learning, cultivating an engaged audience.
  • Listeners feel podcasts are under-commercialized: Weekly podcast listeners are comfortable hearing ads and the more time they spend with podcasts, the more ads they will accept.
  • High CPMs warranted: Podcasts have the greatest ad attentiveness compared to other media.

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