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US podcast fans are spending even more time listening, according to new study from Acast and Nielsen

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December 14, 2021

Our listener research in partnership with Nielsen has revealed that more than half of podcast listeners in the US increased listening time in the past six months, while 41% expect to spend even more time with the medium in the next six months.

The study of 2,000 US adults who consume podcasts at least monthly found that 52% increased the amount of time they spent listening over the past six months.

According to the findings, in the past six months consumption of podcasts has increased more so than most other media — especially when compared to other audio-based media. Versus the 52% of listeners who said they increased podcast consumption, the figures for online radio (36%), AM/FM radio (36%) and audio books (33%) were less encouraging.

And respondents plan to spend even more time listening in the next six months, with 41% agreeing that they expect to increase consumption further. This is significant compared to just 36% that plan to spend more time streaming music and only 29% who plan to spend more time with online radio.

With consumption on the rise, the podcast landscape is rich with opportunities for brands and podcasters to reach new audiences. Nearly half (45%) of respondents said they started listening to podcasts in the past year, with listeners in the 18–34 year-old range the most likely to have discovered podcasts during that time. That same age group is proving to be a loyal audience, with 79% saying they now listen to podcasts multiple times a week.

The research also shows that podcasting is an undersaturated market, and that consumers desire more content than is being produced. For example, three quarters of respondents say they listen to podcasts weekly — but just 43% of podcasts currently publish on a weekly cadence.

The study went on to explore listener attitudes towards podcast advertising, revealing that there are low levels of advertising fatigue compared to other types of media. Just 25% of listeners say there are too many ads on podcasts, compared to 50% who say there are too many commercials on cable TV. And, according to the study, 76% listen to ads — while 73% said they take action after hearing an ad.

Half of all respondents said advertising on a podcast is the best way for a brand to reach them, and 55% say they developed a more positive opinion towards brands that advertised on their favourite podcasts — showing that podcast ads are a key tool for influencing brand favorability.

Other key findings include:

- 70% of listeners say they enjoy listening to guest interviews, while 58% of listeners say they enjoy listening to panel discussions, and 55% of listeners say they enjoy listening to host banter

- News, music and comedy content are most frequently consumed, with nearly two thirds (64%) of podcast listeners listening to news shows every week.

- For episodes of an hour or longer, 62% of listeners say they listen to more than half — confirming that pre-roll and mid-roll ad placements are great ways to reach listeners.

- More than half of listeners (57%) will listen to a podcast episode multiple times.

- Listeners are attentive when consuming podcasts — 65% are focused when listening to podcasts, more so than any other tested medium.

- Podcast listeners are actively listening to ads to support their favorite podcasters — 57% agree that listening to ads is important to support their favorite podcast hosts.

- Podcast listeners are five times more likely to like than dislike brand-sponsored content in podcasts.

- Podcast listeners are almost four times more likely to like than dislike brand-owned podcasts.

“Podcasts are undoubtedly an increasingly important part of the lives of listeners in the US. We think of our favourite podcasters like our friends, and trust them to entertain and inform us just as much as we trust them to recommend brands and products we will enjoyChanging consumer attitudes and interests have seen podcasting become an integral part of thousands of brands’ marketing strategies, and our research supports the increasingly valuable role podcasts can play.”- Georgie Holt, Managing Director, Americas at Acast.
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