- The U.S. podcast audience grew 16% to 104 million consumers this year as more people streamed audio on smartphones, smart speakers and in-car infotainment systems, according to an annual study by Edison Research and Triton Digital. That means 37% of people ages 12 and older are podcast listeners — up from 32% last year — while 75% of respondents said they're aware of podcasting, a percentage that translates into 212 million people.
- The percentage of people who own a smart speaker grew to 27% this year, or an estimated 76 million people, from 23% in 2019. Amazon Alexa is the leading voice assistant, with 21% of people saying they own an Amazon device, ahead of Google Home at 11% and Apple HomePod at 1%. Smart speaker owners now have an average of 2.2 devices in their homes, up from 1.7 in 2018, the survey found.
- The number of people who listen to online audio at least once a month grew to 68% this year — 192 million people — from 67% in 2019. Pandora and Spotify were the most popular online audio services, tied at 25% each among U.S. consumers, beating out Amazon Music (14%), Apple Music (12%), iHeartRadio (11%), Google Play (9%) and SoundCloud (8%).
Podcasts continue to gain acceptance among U.S. consumers as more listen to online audio on a variety of on-demand devices. The percentage of people ages 12 and older who own a smartphone is now 85%, or 240 million people, up from 84% last year, helping to support listenership.
The format is especially popular among younger demographic groups, with 49% of people ages 12 to 34 saying they listened to a podcast in the past month, up from 42% last year, per the survey. Meanwhile, 40% of people ages 35-54 and 22% of people ages 55 and older listen to podcasts. The average time spent listening to podcasts has hovered at about six and a half hours per week for the past several years, with podcast listeners streaming about six podcasts a week on average.
The survey findings help to explain why companies like Spotify and iHeartMedia have expanded their podcast programming while offering more advertising opportunities. Spotify, which said podcast consumption grew 200% in Q4 from a year earlier, not only has acquired prodcast companies such as The Ringer, Gimlet Media, Anchor and Parcast, but also developed a Streaming Ad Insertion format that provides marketers data with more audience information to help target ads. IHeartMedia has introduced its own custom advertising network aimed at marketers seeking to reach a podcast audience, while Pandora expanded its Podcast Genome Project to provide more customized experiences for listeners.
Advertisers are taking notice of streaming audio programming, with the global podcast market forecast to make up 4.5% of all audio ad spend by 2022, hitting $1.6 billion, researcher WARC predicts. About 75% of media buyers last year made podcasts ad buys, up from 63% in 2018, a survey by the IAB found. Brands such as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and Lexus have recently launched sponsored podcast series to reach audiences through their on-demand listening devices.