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New Research Reveals Podcast Listening Habits

Speed listening is a real thing

While podcasting has exploded in recent years, research into listening habits in general, or about specific podcasts, has lagged a bit, especially when compared with what we know about how other media is used. A recent report by Westwood One, in partnership with MARU/Vision Critical, is a deep dive into the consumption habits of podcast listeners.

The Podcast Download Fall 2017 Report was unveiled in New York City at the third annual IAB Podcast Upfront, and has several key takeaways.

  • Heavy podcast listeners are voracious media and tech junkies. This should come as no surprise. These power listeners consume a considerable amount of streaming video from Netflix and Hulu, and are early adopters of new delivery platforms such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa. They are also extreme audio consumers, spending 47 or more percent of their time plugged into some form of audio content.
  • Despite the popularity of podcasts, they are under commercialized, with many opportunities to add commercial breaks. The longer the podcast, the more accepting listeners are to multiple add breaks. 39% say that a one-hour show with six ads could have three or more ad breaks.
  • An ad-free, paid subscription podcast model seems to have potential. Almost 70% of heavy podcast listeners are OK with the idea, and would be willing to pay $6 a month for an ad-free version of their favorite podcast.
  • Half of heavy podcast listeners have increased the speed of the podcast. This discovery begs the question – should ads be voiced more slowly so that they can be understandable at higher speeds?

“Uncovering the opportunity of greater ad loads, the rise of ‘speed listening’ and a subscription opportunity is valuable information for marketers, content creators, and podcast producers exploring new revenue models,” adds Suzanne Grimes, executive vice president of corporate marketing for Cumulus Media and president of Westwood One.

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