With the COVID-19 pandemic, digital media such as podcasts have grown in popularity. Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular and continue to receive a lot of attention during a time when physical interactions are limited or put on hold, but don’t dismiss them as a passing fad. Every day, it appears that more and more people are becoming aware of this previously hidden multi-faceted form of entertainment and knowledge. Are you curious about the popularity of podcasts? In this article, we’ll take a look at three of the reasons why podcast listenership has grown in recent years. But, before we get there, let’s talk about how popular podcasts have become.
How Popular Are Podcasts?
According to Edison One Research, approximately 80 million Americans or 28 percent of the U.S. 12+ population now listen to weekly podcasts, a 17 percent increase from 2020. The overall monthly podcast listening audience is now more diverse than it has ever been: 57 percent are white, 16 percent are Latino, 13 percent are African American, 4 percent are Asian, and 10 percent are of some other ethnicity. According to The Infinite Dial, an annual report released earlier this year by Edison Research and Triton Digital, more than 80 million Americans ages 12 and up (roughly 28% of the U.S. population) listen to podcasts on a weekly basis. This represents a 17% increase in listening audience, which is significant when compared to the 9% increase identified between 2019 and 2020. However, the rise of podcasts appears to be far from over. According to an article published by Forbes in February 2021, podcast listening is projected to grow further. In 2020, an estimated 100 million people listened to a podcast each month, with that figure expected to rise to 125 million by 2022.
In addition, some podcasting statistics for 2021 show:
- Over 55% of people in the United States have listened to a podcast.
- Over 155 million people listened to podcasts on a weekly basis in 2020.
- Approximately 24% of the US population (68 million) listens to multiple podcasts on a weekly basis.
- Podcast listeners tune in to seven different shows per week on average.
- Over 700,000 podcasts are currently active, with 29 million podcast episodes available.
- The most common age group for podcast listeners is 25-44, accounting for 49 percent of all listeners.
People seem to enjoy podcasts based on the numbers. It enables users to listen to audio episodes while running, cooking, or cleaning, among other things. As a result, they provide an easy way to learn while doing something else. This brings us to the first reason for the popularity of podcasts:
1. Multitasking is made possible and aided by podcasting.
As the world has become progressively busy, the podcast format has expanded significantly in popularity. While listening to audio content, the listener can multitask. According to a recent survey, 49% of podcast listening takes place at home, 22% while driving, 11% at work, and 8% while exercising. The length of a podcast generally allows for a more in-depth understanding of a topic or an extensive conversation between or among the hosts. One of the most appealing features of listening to downloaded podcast episodes is that the listener has control over the playback. When listening to an interview podcast, in particular, it is much easier to set one’s own pace, including the ability to rewind and fast forward. Podcast audio content allows listeners to delve into a variety of interesting topics without having to schedule a time to actually read or watch a video. Podcasts also provide news stories in bite-sized chunks that are ideal for daily commutes or hectic schedules.
Podcasts also enable listeners to better inform themselves without spending a lot of money. Through these podcasts shows, people are able to learn more about subject matters ranging from small talk topics to relevant social issues, as well as hear a broader and more diverse range of perspectives or listen to other people who hold similar beliefs.
2. Podcasts offer an unimaginably large number of options and variety.
With a few clicks and possibly a search, you can probably find whatever you want to listen to in podcast form. Almost any topic a listener might be interested in can usually be found in podcast format online. A podcast may have the content one is looking for, whether you want an extensive discussion on a specific true-crime case, want to be updated on the current political news, want to escape with a piece of fiction, or want to elevate your business game with some new tips and techniques. Providing listeners a wide range of content to choose from which is usually updated weekly or sometimes daily, keeps them engaged and invested for a long period of time.
It has also been identified that listening to podcasts can have a positive impact on listeners’ social and mental well-being. Discovering podcast hosts and like-minded podcast listeners can help you form a similar bond, and it’s a great platform for sharing a form of escapism that you enjoy, just like finding people who listen to and love the same music that you do.
3. Podcasts establish an instant community.
Podcasters formed communities in order to engage and expand their audience. This, however, does more than just ramp up download numbers and help sponsors engage; it also entices listeners searching for a community. The audience is given a platform and the chance to find their voice as well as share their experiences with others. Listeners are provided with the opportunity to form relationships not only with the host but also with others in the community. Fostering an online community provides the audience with a place to gather, a place to belong, and a sense that they are not alone on their life journey.
Podcasts reassure listeners that there is a person behind the episode; a person who cares about as well as supports them in attaining their goals and achieving the success they strive for. They feel important as their concerns are addressed, they are encouraged to actively participate in community discussions, and their participation, no matter how big or small, is valued. Bryce Preston makes these possible through podcasts.