The report shares six key findings about the U.S. podcast audience and smart speaker owners, revealing where they live, who they are, their audio habits and more.
“Audio is a huge part of life for Americans,” wrote Pierre Bouvard, the chief insights officer for Cumulus Media and Westwood One. “While AM/FM radio dominates the audio landscape with mass reach and significant time spent, podcasts and smart speakers are fast-growing platforms representing engaging environments for brands.”
The key takeaways are as follows:
1. Podcasts and smart speakers have opportunities for growth in markets 51+ where they are underrepresented
Nielsen Scarborough’s Podcast Study finds that podcast listeners are both overrepresented in the top ten markets and underrepresented in designated market areas (DMAs) 51+.
Additionally, 35% of all smart speaker owners are in the top 10 markets where 31% of the U.S. population resides; however, smart speaker ownership is underrepresented by 24% in DMAs 51+ and smaller, where 31% of the U.S. population is found.
2. Since 2016, the two fastest growing audio platforms are podcasts and AM/FM radio streaming
According to Cumulus, over the last five years, podcasts’ share of ad-supported audio has tripled from 4% to 13% among persons age 25-54. AM/FM radio streaming shares have nearly doubled from 6% to 10%.
“Amazingly, the ad-supported share of AM/FM radio streaming (10%) is nearly as big as the combined audiences of Pandora and Spotify (11%)!,” wrote Bouvard. “Over-the-air AM/FM radio remains the dominant audio platform at a 61% share of ad-supported audio.
“Over five years, Spotify’s ad-supported shares have been stagnant at a 3% share. (Spotify’s subscription service, which is advertising free, has soared 5X since 2016.)”
3. 38% of Americans have a smart speaker as ownership growth has moderated
In four years, smart speaker ownership has increased fivefold, per study findings. As of Q4 of 2021, 38% of Americans reported owning a smart speaker. This is up 5.4 times in comparison to Q1 of 2017.
4. The median age of the podcast audience holds at 33 despite massive audience growth
On average, podcast listeners are 10 years younger then AM/FM radio listeners and 26 years younger than linear television consumers.
5. Most podcast listening occurs at home throughout the day
While podcast audiences have grown dramatically in recent years, especially over the course of the pandemic, the vast majority of listening still occurs at home.
6. Podcast listeners are super fans of audio, spending 41% more time with audio than the average American
Per the Cumulus report, podcast listeners spend nearly six hours of their day listening to audio.
Below, you can watch a 11-minute video further summarizing the key findings in this report.