Acast and Nielsen: US Podcast Fans Are Spending Even More Time Listening

Acast, the global power source for podcasting, unveiled the results of new podcast listener research conducted in partnership with Nielsen. The study of 2,000 US adults who consume podcasts at least monthly found that 52% increased the amount of time they spent listening over the past six months.

According to the findings, in the past six months consumption of podcasts has increased more so than most other media – especially when compared to other audio-based media. Versus the 52% of listeners who said they increased podcast consumption, the figures for online radio (36%), AM/FM radio (36%) and audio books (33%) were less encouraging.

With consumption on the rise, the podcast landscape is rich with opportunities for brands and podcasters to reach new audiences. Nearly half (45%) of respondents said they started listening to podcasts in the past year, with listeners in the 18-34 range the most likely to have discovered podcasts during that time. That same age group is proving to be a loyal audience, with 79% saying they now listen to podcasts multiple times a week.

The research also shows that podcasting is an undersaturated market, and that consumers desire more content than is being produced. For example, three quarters of respondents say they listen to podcasts weekly – but just 43% of podcasts currently publish in a weekly cadence.

The study went on to explore listener attitudes toward podcast advertising, revealing that there are low levels of advertising fatigue compared to other types of media. Just 25% of listeners say there are too many ads on podcasts, compared to 50% who say there are too many commercials on cable TV. And, according to the study, 76% listen to ads – while 73% say they take action after hearing an ad.

Half of all respondents said advertising on a podcast is the best way for a brand to reach them, and 55% say they developed a more positive opinion towards brands that advertised on their favorite podcasts – showing that podcast ads are a key tool for influencing brand favorability.

Additional key findings reveal:

Listeners enjoy various aspects of podcasts:

70% of listeners say they enjoy listening to guest interviews
58% of listeners say they enjoy listening to panel discussions
55% of listeners say they enjoy listening to host banter

News, music, and comedy content are most frequently consumed, with nearly two thirds (64%) of podcast listeners listening to news shows every week.

For episodes of an hour or longer, 62% of listeners say they listen to more than half – confirming that pre-roll and mid-roll ad placements are great ways to reach listeners.

More than half of listeners (57%) will listen to a podcast episode multiple times.

Listeners are attentive when consuming podcasts – 65% are focused when listening to podcasts, more so than any other tested medium.

Podcast listeners are actively listening to ads to support their favorite podcasters – 57% agree that listening to ads is important to support their favorite podcast hosts.
Podcast listeners are five times more likely to like than dislike brand-sponsored content in podcasts.

Podcast listeners are almost four times more likely to like than dislike brand-owned podcasts.

“Podcasts are undoubtedly an increasingly important part of the lives of listeners in the US. We think of our favorite podcasters like our friends, and trust them to entertain and inform us just as much as we trust them to recommend brands and products we will enjoy,” said Nick Southwell-Keely, US Director of Sales and Brand Partnerships at Acast. “Changing consumer attitudes and interests have seen podcasting become an integral part of thousands of brands’ marketing strategies, and our research supports the increasingly valuable role podcasts can play.”