It takes a lot to be a successful podcaster in this day and age.
You need to have a vision. You need to have a brand. You need to ooze personality and charisma. You need to be a harsh editor, a great marketer, and a hard worker.
But you also need to understand the context in which you exist.
You need to know who you’re competing with before you can compete. You need to see how big the pool is before you jump in. You need to study the craft before you carve your space in it.
For educational purposes, here are some podcast statistics every budding podcaster should know. Some of these will make sense, some of them might blow your mind. However, all of them should correct any misconceptions you might have about the world you’re about to enter.
1. 32% of Americans listen to podcasts monthly
For something as time-consuming as podcast listening, it’s a shock that almost a third of Americans find time to do it monthly. For reference, 33% of the US population attend religious services monthly.
I’d never make a joke about podcasting being almost “bigger than Jesus”…but if I would, now’s the time.
The bottom line? Anyone who tells you podcasts have a niche audience is wrong. This is exciting because it shows the sheer magnitude of podcast consumers ready to engage with the content you create.
This percentage is only increasing. In 2018, only 26% of Americans were monthly podcast listeners. 22% of the US population took it a step further, identifying as weekly podcast listeners.
2. Podcast listeners consume 7 different shows per week on average
Here’s another misconception I hear about podcasting all the time: listeners only have time for one or two shows, so why bother?
Well, this statistic goes to show that most listeners are avid, and avid listeners typically have time for seven different podcasts weekly! This means you don’t have to be a popular podcast to compete for podcast listeners’ attention. There is plenty of space.
Most listeners have a heavy rotation and follow quite a few different content creators. If this doesn’t motivate you to get out and work your way into that rotation, I don’t know what will.
That being said, you still need to find a way to stand out. Make sure you master the art of podcast promotion, so your podcast is easily findable on Google, iTunes, Apple Podcasts, and other social media platforms.
3. 80% of listeners listen to all or most of each episode
While most podcast episodes are pretty time consuming, it seems like the majority of listeners are dedicated to sticking it out.
That being said, this number is down from 86% in 2017, reflecting the fact that people’s attention spans are getting shorter.
What does this mean for you? You need to make sure you draw-in your listeners early on, giving them incentives to stay tuned and letting them know what they’ll be missing out on if they don’t.
A slow-burn is never the move for a podcast. You’ll need to reward your listeners as soon as they start listening and keep those rewards coming. Don’t assume that everyone is dedicated to sticking it out, even if most people are.
4. 19% of listeners increase the speed of their podcast
People often talk about the trade-off between podcasting and music, but podcasting lets you do something music doesn’t: speed up the track.
While you can speed up music, doing so messes with the intended pitch and tempo, so most people avoid it. However, podcasting is more about what’s being said than the sonics of it, and people want to get through as many podcasts as possible. So it makes sense that almost a fifth of listeners will speed them up.
While there isn’t much you can do about this, you might want to minimize the amount of times the impact of your podcast relies on the timing of your delivery. Don’t sacrifice quality for this minority, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind.
5. 65% of listeners have been listening for less than three years
Podcasting is only increasing in popularity. More than half of listeners are relatively new, meaning they didn’t listen to podcasts three years ago.
This means the industry will probably only grow from here, as there’s plenty of listeners who are yet to be converted. The market is not getting any less saturated, so enter now!
6. Podcast listeners are much more likely to be active on social media
This is true across every social media channel. If you listen to podcasts, chances are you are much more active on social media than the average person.
Specifically, a whopping 94% of podcast listeners are active on at least one social media platform. The national average is 81%.
Make sure you give listeners a reason to tap into that activity to help you grow your listener base organically.
Here’s an idea: include giveaways contingent on users sharing your podcast on social media. People are ready to talk about things they love, so take advantage of that.
7. South Korea has the most monthly podcast listeners, with 58%
Podcasting isn’t just an American phenomenon. If you’re a podcaster, you’re competing with a global market.
Australia, Sweden, Spain and South Korea are the countries that have more monthly podcast listeners than America. South Korea is the highest by a landslide, with well over half of its population tuning in monthly.
8. Men are more likely to be podcast listeners
The percent of the US population who said they listened to a podcast in the past month is a bit higher for men (36%) than it is for women (29%). That being said, a lot of women still listen to podcasts, so do not alienate them with your content.
9. Podcast listeners tend to be more affluent
In the United States, 29% of households have a household income of $75,000 or higher. Among US podcast listeners, that number is 41%.
Don’t make any assumptions about why this disparity exists, but know that it does. This means that many podcast listeners have money to spend on things they love, so make sure you have a good business model to monetize your content.
A lot of podcast hosts give you access to data regarding your podcast listeners. Make sure you take advantage of that window into your listeners’ lives and tailor your content to them.
In a similar vein, 27% of US podcast listeners have a 4-year college degree, which is higher than 19%, the number for the US population.
10. Multitasking is the number one reason people say they enjoy podcasts
There’s a lot of things you can do while listening to a podcast. 59% of listeners have listened while doing housework, 52% have listened while driving and 44% have listened while exercising.
The ability to multitask, which isn’t present in TV or movies, is part of the appeal of podcasts. You can play a podcast on your smartphone and do pretty much anything else you want to do.
When asked why they enjoy podcasts, the most cited reason was that listeners could “do other things while listening”.
This is just one of the many ways podcasts are like music. They can be played on Soundcloud or Spotify, they go nicely in the background, and podcast listeners can go about their daily lives while tuning in.
Make sure your podcast is multitasking friendly, and don’t assume your listeners are taking notes on everything you are saying. If listeners can’t get anything from your podcast passively, they are likely to get alienated.
After all, versatility is key to expanding your podcast audience as much as you can. Podcast fans want your episode to complement their lives.
Take this, along with all these other insights, in stride before you start your podcasting journey!