Between the Headphones: What Podcast Listeners Think and Prefer

Podcasts are popular – there’s no doubt about it. 63 million Americans (over the age of 18) have listened to a podcast in the last 30 days – and 57 million have listened in the last week. These listeners average 8 hours (or 4 programs) per week, with heavier listeners (6+ programs a week) spending 16 hours a week listening to podcasts.

Podcast listeners are a desirable audience: They skew young, male, single, and affluent, with a median age of 39 and a median HH income of $101K. Nearly one-half (49%) have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Podcast fans enjoy a mix of leisure activities as well, occupying their time with beach-going (40%/index: 123), board games (31%/index: 129), cooking (29%/index: 122), going to bars and clubs (23%/index: 129), and more.

In terms of their other media use, podcast listeners are heavy social media users, heavy internet users, and heavy radio listeners. They are average when it comes to magazine and newspaper reading, and index below average for television viewing. When they do watch TV, however, they prefer comedy, news, sports, and kids programming.

But what they really like, besides their podcasts, is streaming. Content on demand, be it audio or video, is the favorite of this group. 95% of podcast listeners are using major streaming services, and they are more likely than adults in general to be watching the top streaming services.

So what drives their attention to particular podcasts? 78% say they feel close to the hosts of the podcasts they listen to, 75% say they frequently discuss what they hear on podcasts, and 66% consider podcasts part of their daily routine. And they find the ads in their favorite podcasts relevant, useful, and trusted, with 80% of podcast users saying “Ads in podcasts have made me aware of new products and services.” They’re not just listening to the ads in their podcasts either; they’re taking action. As a result of podcast advertising, 40% look for more product info, 39% have considered purchasing a product or service, 32% have talked to someone about a product, 29% check out the products on social media, and 1 in 5 have made a purchase after listening.

There are podcasts on every topic imaginable – and then some. But the most popular ones involve comedy (38%), music (33%), and politics and government (26%). The MRI-Simmons podcast study measures over 50 individual podcast titles, and the favorite among those who listen to podcasts weekly is the Joe Rogan Experience.

Top Podcasts

Podcast listeners also tend to be big spenders across categories; those who listen to Death, Sex, and Money spend above average on athletic shoes ($125/index: 118) and apparel ($664/index: 131). The MRI-Simmons Podcast Study offers insights on podcasting, including a dive into the world of podcast listeners. Deeper analysis of engagement and behaviors, as well as motivational drivers, are compiled alongside the extensive set of MRI-Simmons National Study data. To watch a video of MRI-Simmons VP of Consumer Insights, Jillian Anderson, presenting podcast data at the Mavericks of Media conference, click here, and for more information, visit our podcast study page.

Jennifer Olson
Jennifer Olson
Jennifer Olson is the Director of Marketing at MRI-Simmons. She has worked in the world of marketing and media research for over 30 years on both the supplier and vendor sides. Finding insights in data makes her happy, and she's perpetually searching for new data visualization ideas.
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