Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights Report Reveals Latest Podcast Trends

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

The several edition of the study that examines weekly podcast listeners is part of Cumulus Media’s commitment to share insights and research findings with the podcast community. Topics covered in the Podcast Download Report include usage, content, social audio and advertising trends.

“Our new Podcast Download Report uncovers a major opportunity for brand marketers,” said Suzanne Grimes, EVP, Marketing for Cumulus Media and President, Westwood One. “With this new report, we can now prove podcast advertising reaches tens of millions of younger consumers who have abandoned linear television for advertising-free video streaming services.”

“Spotify has now become the number one listening source for podcasts in the U.S. The sands are shifting under our feet,” said Jeff Vidler, President and Founder of Signal Hill Insights. “The big three podcast listening oligarchy – YouTube, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify – now have a 63% listening share, up from 55% in 2019.”

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

Podcast listeners are heavy users of ad-free video streaming. As two out of five weekly podcast listeners are cord cutters and only watch ad-free video streaming.

Women ascend: Podcast newcomers who started listening last year are more likely to be women. 60% of those who began listening to podcasts in the last year are women. Women represent 43% of the audience who began listening to podcasts four or more years ago, the podcast pioneers.

Podcast content preferences differ significantly by gender and demographic. Of the top five most-listened-to podcast genres among men and women, there are just two types of podcasts (Comedy and News/Current Events) in common. Among men, the top five content genres also include Sports, Technology, and Business. Among women, their top podcast genres include Storytelling/Drama/True Crime, Entertainment/Pop Culture, and Education.

Social audio is no longer a one-brand category. Six social audio apps have similar usage and awareness. Facebook Live Audio Rooms, Twitter Spaces, Clubhouse, Discord Stage Channels, Reddit Talk, and Spotify Greenroom each have been listened to by 17% – 19% of the weekly podcast audience.

Podcast platform wars: Spotify is now the leading listening destination as the big three podcast tuning oligarchy (Apple Podcasts, YouTube, and Spotify) expand share. When asked which platform they listen to the most to access podcasts, 24% say Spotify, followed by Apple Podcasts (20%) and YouTube (19%). In two years, the combined share of the big three has grown from 55% to 63%.

Podcast advertising consideration, intention, and usage at all-time highs according to a November 2021 Advertiser Perceptions study of 300 media agencies and marketers. 45% of brands and agencies say they are currently advertising in podcasts, up from 34% in 2020.

The greater the podcast listenership, the more podcast ads generate consumer response and business outcomes. Host-read ads continue to be the most preferred, especially among women. As a result of hearing a podcast ad, heavy podcast listeners (those who listen 6+ hours per week) are more likely to have searched online for a product, made a purchase, used a promo code, or followed a brand on social media.

Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights’ Podcast Download – Fall 2021 Report is available in full for download at