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Podcasting Gets Boost From Casual Listeners

Nielsen finds that “light users” are helping the medium grow

Nielsen, Podcast TodayNielsen says people who only listen to podcasts every week or two are an increasingly important part of the growth of podcasting.

“Today, almost half (49%) of U.S. podcast listeners are light users who are presumably new to the medium: people who listen anywhere from one to three times a month,” the company says in highlighting results of its latest Podcasting Today report.

“That’s a notable contrast to a typical podcast listener five or 10 years ago when most listening came from people who were more likely to listen to each and every episode from their favorite titles — episodes that are oftentimes released once a week.”

Nielsen says this finding “highlights two important storylines.”

It says consumer interest in “new, engaging content” from all forms of media continues to grow, and that podcast content “has proven to be an attractive option” during the pandemic.

Nielsen, Podcast Today, podcast audience, podcast listenership

It also says the pandemic “paused the growth of heavy podcast listeners,” because of changes in lifestyles and schedules. “Yet while the percentage of heavy listeners declined slightly last year, we’re now seeing it increase, rising from 25% earlier this year to just under 30% as of May.”

[Read: Podcast Listeners By the Numbers]

Nielsen believes the pandemic has not had a negative impact on overall podcast engagement.

“While listener growth  flattened somewhat during the second half of last year, it has ramped up notably in 2021, largely due to an increase in at-home listening, which is attributable to light listeners checking out the medium. The rise in at-home listening is also somewhat counter to historical podcast engagement, and again, speaks to the transformation of industry to a broader audience.”


Nielsen, Podcast Today, podcast audience, podcast listenership

The company asserts that brands and agencies need to be tracking engagement with podcasting and putting the platform to use.


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