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  • Writer's pictureRanieri & Co.

5 Podcast Industry Insights from The Infinite Dial 2022

Every year, we await the results of The Infinite Dial study with baited breath. The survey is America’s longest-running survey of digital media consumer behavior, tracked annually since 1998, and unveils the latest research in digital audio, social media, mobile, smart speakers, and podcast consumption. It is indicative of worldwide audio trends and always delivers valuable insights. The study is conducted by Edison Research, Wondery and Art 19. So what can this year’s results tell us about the industry and the future of podcasting? Was the pandemic the peak of listening, or is the industry continuing to grow?

1. Podcast’s reach is wider than ever

  • 62% of those age 12+ in the U.S. (an estimated 177 million people) have ever listened to a podcast, up from 57% last year.

  • In-car podcast listening also showed growth: 32% of those age 18+ who have ridden in or driven a car in the last month now listen to podcasts in-car, compared to 30% last year.

  • 79% of the US population 12+ are familiar with the term “podcasting” (up from 78% last year) (The Infinite Dial 22).

The above statistics are proof points for the industry gaining momentum and indicate that tuning into podcasts is becoming part of more and more people’s everyday lives. This trend of growth indicates long term staying power - podcasts are no flash in the pan and they haven’t reached their peak yet.

2. Behaviors have shifted, post-pandemic

  • Monthly podcast listening has dipped slightly from 41 million (2021) to 38 million. However, it is still higher than the 2020 figure (37 million).

  • The percentage of people who have listened to a podcast in the last month is up to 41% (it was 37% last year). (The Infinite Dial 22)

“The podcast industry has grown and changed immensely in the past two years as people’s daily lives changed,” said Jen Sargent, CEO of Wondery.

The pandemic meant that a lot of people who have never listened to a podcast before gave them a go. Not all of these casual listeners kept the habit up. Additionally, now that we are back at work and school, time is more limited for listening.

Edison’s separate Podcast Consumer Tracker data helps shed more light on the numbers. It showed that while 64% of podcasts were listened to at home at the start of 2021, by year-end 59% were. At the same time, the number of people who said they listen to a podcast most often on a computer fell from 20% to 13%, while those who said they used a smartphone to listen to podcasts jumped from 64% to 73%. (Inside Radio)

3. Car Listening is up

  • 84% of the adults aged 18 and older that were surveyed, reported they had been in a car in the past month. That is up a point from a year ago when the pandemic played a bigger role in traveling restrictions.

  • The amount of people listening to podcasts in the car is up 3 points from last year. (The Infinite Dial 22)

AM/FM radio continues to be the default choice in-car with 73% of the population, however it has trended down from 81% in 2020. The survey found the number of those with in-dash integrated entertainment tech in their vehicles is growing slowly – up to 22% of Americans from 20% last year, led by Apple Car Play at 17%. It will be interesting to see how this affects radio and podcast figures in future - especially with more and more radio stars offering podcast options.

4. It’s not all solo listening

  • One in five (19%) surveyed said they frequently listen with others and 28% said they sometimes do.

  • Younger demographics (12-34) were most likely to listen to audio with other people (26%), compared to 20% of 35-54 year olds and 10% of those 55+. (The Infinite Dial 22)

It’s often been assumed that podcast listening is mainly a solo affair, but these insights indicate that the Spotify generation like to listen in groups quite often, alluding to more talkability around podcasts. This trend indicates more occasions for consumption, such as road trips.

5. The industry skews young

18% of those aged 12-34 listen to 6-10 podcasts per week

  • More 12-34 year olds listen to 1-5 podcasts per week (67%) than those 35-54 (62%)

  • While 12- to 34-year-olds averaged 8.3 podcasts and those aged 35 to 54 averaged 8.9, people age 55 and older listened to an average 4.9 podcasts. (The Infinite Dial 22)

Often thought of as a favorite media of 30 and 40 year olds, the above figures indicate that Gen Z and younger millennials are huge podcast consumers. With the medium gaining popularity among the trend-setting generation, longevity and growth is indicated. There is also a huge opportunity to grow the 55+ audience, who are becoming more tech savvy.

Among the survey’s findings are that the presence of physical radios in the home is in sharp decline. 39% of Americans no longer have a home radio, up from 32% in 2020. “That story is getting starker and starker, especially on the young end,” explained Webster. “If you look at 12-34 year olds, 57% say they do not have a radio in their home. This is further evidence of the reliance on smartphones for audio consumption.

Overall, this year’s survey is a testimony to the momentum that the industry has gained, indicating further growth and diversity for the medium. All of these insights are a great resource for the industry to dive deep as we continue to innovate on behalf of our listeners, advertisers, and creators. Contact us anytime to learn more. It’s easier than ever to harness the power of this highly effective medium.

About Edison Research

Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of commercial clients, governments, and NGOs, including AMC Theatres, Amazon, Apple, BBC, The Brookings Institution, Facebook, Google, Voice of America, The New York Times, Oracle, Pandora, The Pew Research Center, Spotify, SiriusXM Radio, and UnidosUS. Edison Research is the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research on the medium for NPR, PodcastOne, Slate, Spotify, SXM Media, ESPN, WNYC Studios, Wondery, and many more companies in the space.


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