Podcast awareness and listening continue to rise in the United States, driven by an explosion in new podcast programming, the pandemic, and consumer adoption of “smart speakers” like Amazon Echo and Google Home devices.
This study is now in its 23rd year and is widely regarded as the finest research on audio habits and podcasting available anywhere. I strongly encourage you to download the entire study (no cost) as it contains substantially more insights than I’ve summarized here.
Note that this research surveyed Americans 12 years of age and older.
78% of Americans are Now Familiar with Podcasting
This is approximately 222 million people and an increase of 10 million in one year — a 4.72% increase.
57% of Americans Have Listened to a Podcast
This is up from 55% in 2020 and 51% in 2019. This indicates that roughly three-quarters of the people who are familiar with podcasts have actually listened to one.
Podcast Listeners Have Grown 29.5% in 3 Years
In 2018, 44% of Americans 12 or older had listened to a podcast, compared to 57% in 2021.
41% of Americans Listen to Podcasts Monthly
In 2021, 116 million people listen to a podcast monthly.
Monthly Podcast Listeners Have Grown 61.5% in 3 Years
In 2018, 26% of Americans 12 or older listened to podcasts monthly, compared to 41% in 2021.
More than half of Americans Ages 12-34 Listen to Podcasts Monthly
As of 2021, 56% of all Americans, 12-34, listen to at least one podcast per month, compared to 49% in 2020.
Monthly Podcast Listening Growing Fastest Among Older Americans
From 2020 to 2021, the percentage of Americans ages 55+ who listen to podcasts monthly increased by 18%. At present, more than one-quarter of all 55+ consumers in the United States are listening to podcasts a month.
Each Week, More Americans Listen to Podcasts Than Have Netflix Accounts
In 2021, 28% or 80 million Americans are weekly podcast listeners. There are now 10 million more weekly podcast listeners than the 69 million Netflix account owners in the U.S. This could indicate the start of a shift from video to audio media.
Weekly Podcast Listeners Tune in an Average of 8 Podcasts per Week
On average, podcast fans listen to 8 podcasts during the course of a week. This average is skewed somewhat, however, by hard-core podcast devotees. 40% of weekly podcast listeners consume 1-3 podcasts per week, but 19% listen to 11 or more podcasts! Overall, more listeners are listening to more podcasts per week as compared to 2020 in which 51% of listeners listened to only 1-3 podcasts per week.
Almost a Quarter More Americans Now Have “Smart Speakers” in Their Homes
Led by Amazon, growth in smart speaker ownership has been significant. Smart speaker ownership overall increased by 22% between 2020 and 2021. This increase in smart speakers is giving owners more opportunities to listen to podcasts at home. As the pandemic continues, sales for at-home entertainment devices like smart speakers increased from last year.
Podcasting has become a strong form of media in the United States with listenership increasing in all age groups and the diversity of listeners also increasing. Listeners also consume more podcasts than ever before possibly due to the need for at-home entertainment during the pandemic. Nevertheless, podcasts have become an important part of media today.
Podcast listening is continuing to soar. These 2021 podcast statistics demonstrated that we are not yet at “peak podcast”, at least in terms of consumption. Please do download all of The Infinite Dial from Edison Research and Triton Digital, as there are many more statistics and charts worth your attention.