Podcasts: A Look, Listen and Double Take

Virtually everyone has heard the term “podcast” and more and more people are listening to them everyday. Still, as with the “blog” 10 years ago, podcasts have and are continuing to emerge as an important medium for audio content downloaded by listeners/subscribers wherever and whenever it is most convenient. So, who exactly is listening, where and for how long? Some of the answers might surprise you.

Of course, podcasts come in all shapes and sizes and cover virtually every topic imaginable – from straight news to sports, music and the more niche true crime – and with widely varying degrees of length and reach. The New York Times’ “The Daily” features 20 minute episodes and, the Times’ nine podcasts collectively attract over 5 million unique monthly listeners. “The Joe Rogan Experience,” meanwhile, can run anywhere from one to three hours and pull in 1-2 million listeners per show. But the most prolific of them all is NPR – with 55 active shows, unique monthly listeners in the U.S. of over 19 million, and, globally, downloads and streams of over 143 million people. Incredible numbers all.

And who is listening? At Number One, the 12-24 aged demo, albeit by a narrow margin (40%). Perhaps that is not at all surprising considering that generation has grown on consuming media content “on demand.” Coming in a close second is the 25-54 demographic (39%); a group that regularly seeks out news and information with vigor. Beyond that, 17% of the 55+ crowd routinely listens in. As with Facebook, those numbers are sure to grow in the older demo.

How about preferred locations for podcast listening? Based on experience and what others have expressed to me, I would have thought “in the car” would be the top locale. And yet, driving is actually a close second to “not doing anything else” – in other words, most listeners are actively listening, engaged and undistracted or otherwise unencumbered.

And finally, it is also quite interesting to note that podcasts are becoming a habitual destination for fans and subscribers who look forward to new episodes and then devour them with gusto. 47% listen to a podcast they download within 24 hours and the majority of those surveyed listen to no less than 75% of any one podcast.

It is all information worth digesting and contemplating when considering whether podcasting is the right medium for telling your company or organization’s stories. Because in the ever-changing world of traditional media and increasingly cluttered realm of online content, it is becoming more and more apparent that generating greater “share of voice” in the marketplace can be accomplished by actually sharing your voice.