2020 brought its worst. Podcasts fought back hard. And won.
You may have been on a virtual happy hour, joking with good friends about how it seemed like everyone suddenly had a podcast. You may have even scoffed, “That’s never going to be me.”
But times have changed. The data is in and now we know that perhaps those people who started podcasts in the 2010s were onto something. Maybe, actually, everyone should have a podcast.
Months into 2021, over half of the American population has listened to at least one podcast.
Podcast listening has gone up 17% year over year. Podcasts are even becoming bigger than TV — The New York Times’ The Daily podcast has 4 million listeners a day. That’s bigger than Fox News’ Primetime audience.
Catching on? If you want to reach people in 2021, you probably need to join the podcast revolution.
Every year, the podcasting world waits for the annual report that puts numbers on the industry: the Infinite Dial from Edison Research. The Infinite Dial is the longest-running survey on how Americans are consuming digital media.
The podcast industry relies on this research, so we’ve pulled out the major takeaways for you.
This is what you need to know about podcasting in 2021.
Podcasting is officially mainstream. If you put effort into creating content for marketing, advocacy, or communications, you need to include a podcast in your plan.
This means that a bi-weekly podcast has a very good chance of being heard by the people you’re trying to reach.
Not only are millions of people listening to at least one podcast a week, but people are actually binging on podcasts. The average podcast listener isn’t committed to only one show, but is likely to follow multiple shows. Podcast listeners listen to an average of 8 episodes every week, listening to 5 different shows per week.
What this means for you: Putting out a podcast is no longer a gamble. The data shows that a large section of the population listens weekly to multiple shows. If you work in public affairs or any sect that influences policy, you understand how important an effective communications strategy is. A podcast would be a critical asset to your content plan in reaching your target audience and the data shows that people will listen.
This poses the question: who exactly are podcasts reaching? The answer is great news.
Diversity in podcast listeners is almost as diverse as the country’s population.
This is the biggest change in podcasting over the years. Diversity in podcast audiences is approaching the demographic diversity of the country.
Podcast audiences used to be made up of mostly white men with average to higher-than-average incomes. Now, 43% of podcast listeners are non-white and evenly split between women and men, almost consistent with the actual population.
In fact, according to Nielsen Research, non-white audiences are growing faster than white audiences.
There are several factors at work here. First, more content is being created specifically for audiences of color and women. Content creators are also realizing that they benefit from more diverse audiences and are updating their marketing plans accordingly.
What this means for you: A podcast has the potential to reach the total breadth of your audience. More women, people of color, and people of all ages are listening to podcasts which means your podcast can reach the different demographics within the country. As Tom Webster put it, “There truly is a podcast for everyone ー and podcasting is for everyone.”
The pandemic took away our commutes and travel, the times where we listened to podcasts most. But podcast listenership still grew. People didn’t leave podcasts behind, but rather made new space for them in their free time, in their homes, while cleaning, and on walks.
The bottom line is this: podcasting isn’t going away. If your organization has big goals in reaching a specific audience, now is the time to consider a podcast as one of your most critical assets.