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Survey Says Audiobooks, Podcasting on Upswing While Facebook in Decline

Podcasting has firmly crossed into the mainstream

Every year Edison Research and Triton Digital pool their talents to produce The Infinite Dial, what the companies says is a snapshot of media consumption trends and demographics. Sometimes this report attaches numbers to trends we are well aware of, and sometimes there are surprises. This year, there’s a little of both.

In the no-surprise category, the report shows that podcasting and audiobooks continue their strong growth. The numbers, according to Edison and Triton, among the U.S. population ages 12 and older, the total number of people who have ever listened to a podcast passes 50% for the first time. One-third of the population reported having listened to a podcast in the last month, representing 90 million monthly listeners. The spoken-word audio sector also saw increases with audiobooks, as the portion of the U.S. population that has ever listened to an audiobook surpasses one-half for the first time.

[Read: Edison Explores Preferences and Habits of “Heavy Radio Users”]

Tom Webster, senior vice president at Edison Research comments, “This is a watershed moment for podcasting — a true milestone. With over half of Americans 12+ saying that they have ever listened to a podcast, the medium has firmly crossed into the mainstream.”

What might come as a surprise to many are The Infinite Dial’s numbers that suggest a decline in the number of current users of Facebook. The study shows an estimated 15 million fewer users of Facebook than in the 2017 report. These declines, they claim, are heavily concentrated among younger people.

Some of the other trends noted in this year’s Infinite Dial seem predictable. The report claims that time spent listening to online audio has reached a record high this year, with weekly online audio listeners reporting an average of nearly 17 hours of listening in the last week. Also, the percentage of Americans who listen to online audio (defined as listening to AM/FM radio stations online and/or listening to streamed audio content available only on the internet) has doubled since 2012, growing from one-third of the population to two-thirds. Finally, more than half the U.S. population now reports having used YouTube specifically for music in last week. This number is now 70% among 12–34-year-olds.

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