Study: More Americans Consuming Podcasts

tom-edisonOne in four Americans have downloaded and watched or listened to an audio or video podcast, according to a new study presented online last week by Tom Webster of Edison Research and the Association for Downloadable Media. Awareness of podcasting is up – from 37% to 43% – and Webster says that means it’s mainstream.

In this 4th annual study of Podcasts, Arbitron/Edison found that Internet and broadband access are widespread, a factor that’s contributing to increased consumption of podcasts. Defining podcasts as audio or video digital files, the study makes the distinction that podcasting refers to the download of program-oriented online audio/video such as talk shows or hosted music programs, usually as an automatic download that can be listened to at the user’s convenience. It does not refer to the download of songs or mp3 files.

Most people that listen or watch podcasts do so because it allows them to consume the content whenever they want. That timeshifting behavior is driving podcasting’s popularity. Other reasons for podcasting were the ability to listen wherever they wanted, to carry the content with them, and have more control over the content.

More men than women download podcasts – 59% are men. 53%  are 25-54 years old. They are well educated, high income, and active social networkers. About two thirds of all podcasts are consumed on a desktop computer, although podcast consumers are likely to own a portable device. They also spend more time online and are more likely to listen to Internet radio as well.

Podcasting’s audience is growing – but at 5% in a year that growth is modest. Webster’s presentation ends with recommendations that content providers create more short form podcasts to grow consumption. He also points out that there aren’t enough podcast aggregators to encourage audience growth.

Podcasting’s revenue opportunity  lies in the level of engagement of the listener. Rather than pricing and selling podcasts as a mainstream medium with mainstream cpms, podcasts can be sold with premium pricing – either alone or in tandem with other platforms such as Internet radio.

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