At Jacobs Media, we're excited about Podcast Movement in Orlando this summer. OK, maybe not the Orlando in summer part. But clearly, seemingly everyone's talking about podcasting, and this conference is the platform's epicenter.
And yet, there are conflicting signs about podcasting's true growth curve. Our research indicates that podcasting's next wave may be marked by checkered growth. As we're learning in our Techsurvey (among commercial radio listeners) and our Public Radio Techsurvey, these two audiences appear to be worlds apart when it comes to on-demand audio.
Overall, we're finding that while about one-fifth of our commercial radio respondents (21%) listen to podcasts at least weekly, more than a third (35%) of public radio fans do as well. There are many theories that might explain this disparity, including the fact that so many of the best podcasts produced here in the U.S. have come from public radio station networks and stations – and those who are alumni of the system.
So while podcasting's “cume” – the total number of people who listen weekly – may not be setting records, we're finding that TSP – or time spent podcasting – is on the rise, both among commercial and public radio listeners who enjoy podcasts. These findings support the notion that once many people discover the podcast medium, listening to these on-demand audio shows can become addicting.
When it comes to podcasting, however, everyone's research looks a little different, making it difficult to know precisely who's doing what. And that fuels a lot of conversation and even arguments.
As a result, I was especially hopeful when I saw that podcasting comprised a key portion of the recently released findings of Nielsen “Audio Today – 2019” report. If you haven't read it, it's worth your time.
It was covered in Inside Radio with the tantalizing headline, “Nielsen Report Casts New Light On Who Podcast Listeners Are.”
And in fact, the Nielsen data (in the 48 PPM markets only) says the three format communities that most embrace podcasting are Pop CHR (28%), AC (26%), and News/Talk (24%).
Clearly, the two music formats run counter to the podcasting stereotype. And in fact, Inside Radio pointed out that “Rather than a crowd of public radio and Triple-A hipster-types, Nielsen says the most listened-to format is serving up Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.”
True that, but a more granular look into the Nielsen data suggests there may be more to the numbers than meets the eye. Take, for example, the U.S. metros that have the highest compositions of residents who have ever listened to a podcast:
Public radio aficionados are well aware most of these markets (or those nearby, like San Jose to San Francisco and Middlesex-Somerset-Union to NYC) contain many highly rated, powerful Public Radio stations, several of which are heavily ensconced in the world of podcasting.
WAMU (Washington, D.C.), KUOW (Seattle), Oregon Public Radio, Minnesota Public Radio, and KUT (Austin) are among the best public radio stations in the country. KQED and WNYC have a strong presence in the San Jose and New Jersey towns respectively. Many are market leaders in Nielsen ratings – among all stations.
And then, a closer look at Nielsen's sample of those who have listened to a podcast in the last month reveals a 39 year-old with an average yearly household income of nearly $100,000.
And when I looked back at our 2018 Public Radio Techsurvey data, it was largely the same pattern – News/Talk fans, as well as those in the Gen X and Millennial generations.
Our new PRTS study is in the field, so we'll be able to update this data before the end of summer. But many of the traits that Nielsen uncovered in their new Audio Today report look familiar from a Public Radio point of view.
To square the circle and provide context, we have designed another strong Public Radio podcasting panel for our “Broadcasters Meet Podcasters” sessions at Podcast Movement. “What Public Radio Knows About Podcasting That You Don't Know” features some of the best and brightest at both the network and station level, a continuing theme of our conference schedule.
Last year, NPR CEO Jarl Mohn keynoted (pictured right). The year before, it was Dean Cappello, WNYC's former podcast wizard, providing answers about how traditional radio organizations must adapt to creating and marketing podcasts.
And this summer at Podcast Movement, we'll also feature ex-NPR programming head and Audible exec, Eric Nuzum, author of a new book about the art and craft of podcasting.
From the beginning, Public Radio has held the podcasting pole position. And not a whole lot has changed. We'll continue to investigate why this is the case, while providing perspective on the phenomenon.
Despite the fact podcasting has been around for well more than a decade, it still feels like it's the second inning. There's a lot to learn, and we're committed to learning right along with you.
For more information on our “Broadcasters Meet Podcasters” track, click here.
And for registration and agenda info about the Podcast Movement conference, click here.