Teens & Young Adults Prefer Listening To Podcasts

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Like any growing industry, podcasting needs to appeal to a younger audience, if only to keep replenishing supply as, well, natural attrition occurs, shall we say. The good news is the kids love podcasts!

Recently an early data point from Edison Research’s Share of Ear report was released that is, if I’m honest, a little hard to believe. It’s hard to believe because it shows podcasting kicking the pants out of AM/FM radio. And, OK, maybe you don’t think that’s a really big deal.

But I assure you. That is a very big deal.

Let me get specific because sometimes stats and figures can be misinterpreted, and I’m not immune to that. In fact, I’ll embed the chart here so you can see it:


If you look closely, you’ll see the data point is laser-focused. It shows that in 2021, 13–24 year-olds spent more than twice as much time listening to podcasts as they did listening to AM/FM radio when listening to spoken-word content.

Specifically, they reported spending 35% of their time with podcasts compared to only 16% of their time with am FM radio, again while listening to spoken-word content.

And again, that’s really big.

Let me shine a couple of spotlights. First, we all must keep in mind that this is about spoken-word audio only. This is not about all types of media consumed. It’s not time spent with music, watching movies, or reading books. None of those media consumption habits are reflected in this very specific data point. If it helps, think of this as time with talk radio versus time with talk podcasting. Not all radio is spoken-word radio, but almost all of podcasting is spoken-word audio.

Secondly, this is about 13–24 year-olds. A mix of not-yet and the freshest consumer generation. Which means we now have an entire generation that will very likely carry that listening or media consumption preference forward, likely further increasing their reliance on podcasting as they continue to age.

And that’s what has me most excited about this stat. Actually, there are two things.

The Discovery Problem That Wasn’t

I don’t recall sitting in a smoke-filled room a decade ago hatching the Centralized Podcast Consortium and putting a series of campaigns in motion with the intent of getting an entire generation to switch their spoken word preference. Because it didn’t happen.

They did it on their own. An entire generation that discovered podcasting and is making it a preferred method of consuming entertainment, information, and education, at least in spoken-word form. They discovered on their own that podcasts are a better way to get what they want when they want it than they can get from the radio.

But perhaps this isn’t surprising to you. Perhaps you’re not surprised at all that today’s younger generations are turning off their radios (if they even have a radio) and are instead checking out on-demand content from podcasts. And good news: this data point proves that. Which leads me to my second excitement-inducing theme:

Bring On The Money

Where consumption habits go, so flows investment dollars. Investment in content creation aimed directly at this generation. Continued investment dollars spread out over years for content creation that ages up with this generation as their tastes change.

Some of that investment is going to be made by a range of media publishers, but a lot will be made by existing radio networks and radio stations as they react to this new reality. People have been ringing radio’s death-knell for the better part of my entire existence, yet the overall industry has proven itself to be rather resilient. So I’m not counting them out.

In fact, I’m confident that Big and Small radio will rise to this challenge, some embracing podcasting as a distribution method for their existing content while others make a full pivot to podcasting for some content that may never be broadcast. Radio has the skills. They have the advertising dollars. For them, making the pivot to podcasting is fairly straightforward.

As publisher-funded initiatives hit podcasting more and more, we’ll see more money flowing into podcasting. More advertising dollars for sure. As well as more money invested in innovations to make podcast advertising more efficient and more effective. More business models tackling the hard challenge of monetizing the hard-to-monetize long tail of podcasting.

More money and more innovation invested in creating tools and services that a new generation of podcasters will use to make and distribute their podcasts. And more money and more innovation to create the tools and services a new generation of podcasts listeners will use to find and consume podcasts.

That’s what has me so excited about this data point.

So… how do you do, fellow kids?

I shall be back directly with yet another Podcast Pontifications. Cheers!

Podcast Pontifications is written and narrated by Evo Terra. He’s on a mission to make podcasting better. Allie Press proofed the copy, corrected the transcript, and edited the video. Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.

Originally published at https://podcastpontifications.com.



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Evo Terra

Evo Terra

Podcast philosopher. Professional contrarian. On a mission to make podcasting better. Hip he/him. คุณ | http://PodcastPontifications.com | http://Simpler.Media