Women Podcast Listeners: Closing the Listening Gender Gap

By Megan Lazovick

Thirteen years ago, when the only ways to listen to a podcast were through a computer or by transferring it to an iPod, someone from Edison Research added a question about podcast listening to our annual study Infinite Dial study. Thanks to the foresight of that hero of an audio geek, Edison has a unique look at the history of the growth of podcast listening in the U.S.

And throughout that history, we have observed that the number of women podcast listeners has trailed behind the number of men listeners. In the earlier years of podcasting, the gap was significant (in 2008, the percent of women who ever listened to a podcast lagged behind men by 25%). Today, podcasters are inching toward closing that gender listening gap (in 2018, the percent of women who ever listen to podcasts only lags behind men by 9%), and we at Edison would like to provide some information that might help close the gap further. To do so, we’ll look at some of our previously published studies to take a closer look at the women in those data sets to understand podcasting’s role in women’s lives.

The Infinite Dial

The 2018 Infinite Dial® Study from Edison Research® and Triton Digital® covers the latest research in digital audio, social media, mobile, smart speakers, and podcast consumption. 2018 was, amazingly, the 20th anniversary of the Infinite Dial, making it the longest-running survey of digital media consumer behavior in America.

According to Infinite Dial, in 2018 just over one quarter (26%) of the 12+ U.S. population are monthly listeners. The Infinite Dial estimates show that men’s monthly podcast listening was flat from 2017 to 2018. While women are still behind men in monthly podcast listening, they did grow from 21% in 2017 to 24% in 2018 – which makes for an estimated 34 million women listening.

Women monthly podcast consumers overall are younger than the 12+ population, with 44% of them under the age of 35 compared to 37% in the total population. Women age 25-34 are the really sweet spot for podcasting listenership, with over a third of them saying they’ve listened to a podcast in the last month. There is still a lot of room for growth among in the other age groups, especially with women age 55 and older, with only 13% saying they’ve listened to a podcast in the last month.

Compared to the total population, age 18+, women podcast consumers have a higher annual household income. Fully 44% have a household income of $75,000, compared to only 38% of the total population. Women podcast consumers are also more likely to have obtained higher education than compared to the total population. Thirty-six percent of women who are monthly podcast consumers have attended at least some graduate school (vs. 23% of all Americans). So, women podcast listeners are pretty well-off and highly educated: two very sought after demographics for advertisers.

One number that we really see grow year after year is the amount of time these weekly listeners spend listening to podcasts. In 2018, women podcast consumers that reported listening in the last week (15% of U.S. women), listen to an average of 5 hours and 37 minutes of podcasts per week, which is up from 4 hours and 29 minutes in 2017. Women weekly podcast consumers listen to an average of seven podcasts per week, up from five per week in 2017. These data along with and in-person interviews with podcast listeners all indicate that when someone becomes a podcast listener, he/she spends a lot of time listening to podcasts. Edison Research’s Share of Ear® study looks more deeply at time spent listening.


Edison Research’s Share of Ear® quantifies the reach and time spent with of all forms of audio. It is the only single-source measurement that puts broadcast radio, Internet-only streaming audio, podcasting, satellite radio, TV music channels, and listeners’ own music collections together. More information about the study is available here.

Americans age 13+ spend an average of four hours per day listening to audio. When you break out those four hours, we see 46% of that time goes to AM/FM Radio listening, 14% to streaming audio, 12% owned music, and 3% to podcasts. But, what’s really powerful is when you look at the Share of Ear among women podcast listeners. As seen below, a whopping 27% of their listening goes to podcasting and AM/FM Radio listening drops to 24% of their time. So, when women start listening to podcasts, the majority of their overall listening time is dedicated to podcasts. But how do you convert non-podcast listeners into podcast listeners?


Podcast Listening Barriers study

While the Infinite Dial provides a lot of information about podcast listeners, and Share of Ear gives us an idea of how much women podcast listeners listen, we wanted to know more about those women who do not listen to podcasts. So, we conducted a separate survey with those who are familiar with the term podcasting, but are not listeners. That data has been previously released as part of Tom Webster’s “Podcasting’s Next Frontier: A Manifesto for Growth,” but we’ll, again, look at this data by women to better understand the roadblocks podcasters face in picking up never-before listeners.

While all the women who participated in the study said they were familiar with the term podcasting, 31% of them said they “don’t really understand what a podcast is.”

There is also a lack of a clear understanding about the technology needed to listen to a podcast. Thirty-eight percent of our women respondents said they “aren’t sure how to listen to podcasts” and 66% said they “don’t know where to start.” We have heard these sentiments repeated in multiple in-person interviews and focus groups with non-podcast listeners. In our interviews, women were overwhelmed by the number of choices. They need someone to curate and recommend to them what content they might like.

Three-quarters of women who do not listen said they don’t have a podcast app. We know that, indeed, most DO have a podcast app (at minimum Spotify or Pandora); they are just are unaware.

Pretty much all podcast listeners know that one can download and play a podcast later, but that information hasn’t been passed down to non-listeners: Sixty-eight percent of women familiar with the term “podcasts” but who do no listen thought that podcasts would use up their data plans.

Sixty-one percent said they would listen if there were topics they were interested in, and this could be a case where they are not familiar with the content that’s out there for them, or perhaps podcasters can do more to create content that appeals to women.

Sixty-percent of women familiar with podcast but don’t listen say “podcasts just aren’t for me.” Perhaps many of them are “music-only” people. We know from Share of Ear that not everyone likes speech-based audio. However, hearing such a large percentage of women saying “it’s just not for me” could just indicate that the podcasting industry has not done a good enough job in explaining what’s available to potential listeners.

So what will we see in 2019? Will we see that podcasting has finally closed the gap between men and women listeners when Edison Research and Triton Digital released the Infinite Dial in 2019? Will we see more women-focused podcasts and women-produced podcasts? Will there be more shows universally liked across all demos that are so appealing to non-listeners that they overcome some of the obstacles that have kept them from listening previously? We are not in the business of predicting the future at Edison, but we do have some recommendations to help close the gender listening gap.

First, explain the content, not the tech.  We have done qualitative research that shows quite clearly that non-listeners, even if they say they have heard of a podcast, don’t quite understand what a podcast is. So keep that in mind when you are telling someone why they should to listen to your podcast. In interviews with podcast listeners, people tell us that they listen because they enjoy learning new things because they connect with the hosts, they even tell us how the shows they listen to make them feel. Focus your messages on what you know makes your podcast great, and challenge yourself to write a version of your pitch that does not use the word “podcast.”

Second, get to know your listeners. How much do you know about your listeners? There are so many ways to learn and interact with them. Certainly knowing basic demographics will help you sell sponsorships. But, there are other ways to learn about them too. Listen to your listeners. Invite them to email their thoughts or send audio files or interact with them on social media. Build time into your day EVERYDAY to listen to your audience. If you understand your audience, you’ll learn how to better serve them, which in the end, will better serve you too.

Lastly, invite listeners into your club. You are more than a podcast. You are a club, a community, a group of like-minded people looking to connect. Have you ever met a stranger and somehow found out that you like the same podcast? Did you instantly feel like friends? It’s an amazing phenomenon. You need to think about your podcast as just touchpoint for your entire community of listeners.

Everyone wants to feel like they are a part of something. Allow people to be a part of your club. Ask them to do something more meaningful than rate your show or write a review. Maybe ask them to contribute ideas or perhaps there is a cause that is important to you and your listeners that you can support together. Be more than just a podcast by inviting others to join you in doing something. And if you can’t tell what your something is, then maybe you should work on that. Because the best shows out there are more than just shows.



Podcast Diversity 2008 - 2018

Podcasting and Race: The State of Diversity in 2018

Recently, my colleagues Melissa Kiesche and Megan Lazovick gave a presentation at WerkIt – A Woman’s Podcast Festival. Their presentation, Closing the Listening Gender Gap, presented some new data on the composition of the podcasting audience and also some of the reasons why some women don’t listen to podcasts. You can download the full presentation here–it’s terrific–but it reminded us here at Edison that it’s a good time to revisit another aspect of this evolving medium: the growing diversity of podcast listeners.

First of all, let’s take a look at a comparison of the U.S. Population in 2018, and our most recent Infinite Dial data on monthly podcast listeners:

Podcast Listener Composition by Ethnicity

Podcast Listener Composition by Ethnicity

Here’s what is notable about the comparison of these two pie charts: absolutely nothing. And that’s wonderful news for the medium–the podcast audience today looks nearly identical to the population in general, and that means podcast producers have a wonderful opportunity to create an equally diverse portfolio of content. With the podcast audience essentially mirroring America, podcasters truly have an entrée into winning over The 52–the 52 million Americans who have heard of podcasting, but haven’t yet taken the podcast plunge.

Now, here is why two nearly identical pie charts have me so encouraged about the near term prospects of Podcasting: it didn’t used to look that way. In fact, it used to look really different:

Podcast Diversity 2008 - 2018

Just one short decade ago, the podcast audience was nearly three-quarters White, which was as much a reflection of the types of content being produced at that time as any other explanation. But over the last 10 years, podcasters themselves have become more diverse, and with that so has the universe of available content.

A lot has changed in just 10 years. Just think–back in 2008, we didn’t have Spotify, Snapchat, Uber, GPS on your phone, or Ed Sheeran. But for the ethnic diversity of podcast listeners to change so much over the last ten years is a tribute to the great democracy of podcasting: anyone with a story to tell, can tell that story. Increasingly, America–and the world–is listening.

The Podcast Consumer Canada 2018

Click here to download The Podcast Consumer Canada 2018

Télécharger Le Consommateur Baladodiffusion Canadien 2018 ici

Edison Research and Triton Digital released The Podcast Consumer 2018 earlier this year, marking our 10th year of issuing the most extensive analysis of American podcast listeners available. Today Edison and Triton Digital are proud to release The Podcast Consumer Canada 2018.

This report includes new, unreleased information on the demographics of podcast listeners, frequency and location of podcast consumption, smart speaker ownership, and other podcast listening behaviors in Canada. Data is derived from The Infinite Dial Canada 2018 by Edison Research and Triton Digital.

“All of us here at Edison and Triton are honored to be able to provide our latest data on podcasting to the Canadian public,” said Edison’s Senior Vice President, Tom Webster. “We are also very excited to announce that Edison and Triton will once again collaborate on The Infinite Dial Canada in 2019.”

“We are pleased to continue our collaboration with Edison Research on the Infinite Dial Canada in 2019,” said John Rosso, President of Market Development at Triton Digital. “We look forward to presenting the latest in digital audio consumption and usage, including AM/FM radio, streaming audio, podcasting, the utilization of smart speakers, and more.”

Key findings from The Podcast Consumer Canada 2018 include:

  • 19% of adults are Weekly Podcast Listeners and 28% are Monthly Podcast Listeners
  • Podcast listeners have higher incomes and education levels than the average adult.
  • Weekly podcast listeners spend an average of 6 hours per week listening to podcasts.
  • Weekly podcast listeners listen to an average of 5 podcasts per week.
  • Over half of monthly podcast listeners listen to the entire podcast.
  • In-home is the top listening location for podcasts.
  • Almost half of podcast listeners listen to podcasts from Public Radio producers.
  • Monthly podcast listeners who also own smart speakers are more likely than average to own an Alexa.

Canadians are quite familiar with the term “podcasting,” with 61% of all adults 18+ saying they are familiar with the term. Almost half of Canadians 18+ (47%) have ever listened to a podcast, and the younger the respondent, the more likely they are to have listened. Sixty percent of adults 18-34 have listened to a podcast at some point in time.

Twenty-eight percent of all Canadian adults are monthly podcast listeners, and the younger the listener, the more likely they are to be a monthly or weekly podcast listener. Forty-one percent of those age 18-34 are monthly podcast listeners.














The same holds true for weekly podcast listening, with the younger demos showing a higher concentration of weekly podcast listening. Nineteen percent of adults 18+ have listened to a podcast in the past week, while 27% of 18-34-year-olds are weekly podcast listeners.














Podcast listeners have higher incomes and education levels than the average Canadian 18+. Twenty-nine percent of monthly podcast consumers have an annual household income of $75K-$150K compared with 22% of the total population.












Canadian podcast listeners age 18+ also have higher education levels than the average Canadian adult. One-third of monthly podcast listeners in Canada have at least some graduate school or an advanced degree, and 27% have a four-year degree.













Monthly podcast listeners are much less likely to be retired and more likely to be employed full-time or to be a student than the average adult in Canada. Only 13% of Canadian monthly podcast listeners are retired, compared with 24% of the total 18+ market.  Fifty-three percent of podcast listeners are employed full time and 13% are students.














Podcasts can range in length from just a few minutes to well over an hour or even two. Weekly podcast listeners spend an average of six hours and four minutes per week listening to podcasts. Thirty-six percent of weekly podcast listeners spend five hours or more per week with podcasts.













Weekly podcast listeners listen to an average of five podcasts per week, with 21% listening to six or more in that same period.














Over half of monthly podcast listeners say they listen to the entire podcast, while a little over one-third (35%) don’t listen to the entire podcast, but do listen to most of it. Only 10% say they listen to less than half or just the beginning of the podcast.













Those who have been listening for the most number of years were more likely to consume podcasts more often. Twenty-eight percent of weekly podcast consumers have been listening to podcasts for five years or more, while 24% of monthly podcast consumers have been listening five years or more.














At home is the overwhelming top location to listen to podcasts, with 63% of monthly podcast consumers listening most often at home. In-car/truck is a distant second place at 14% and is close to the number of those who listen at work, 11%. Four percent say they listen while walking around.















Just under half all podcast listeners (47%), listen to podcasts from Public Radio producers such as CBC, Radio Canada, or NPR.


Podcast listeners (10%) are just slightly more likely to own a smart speaker, either an Amazon Alexa or a Google Home device, than the average adult in Canada (8%).













Of the podcast listeners who also own smart speakers, they are more likely to own an Amazon Alexa but no Google Home (37%) than the average adult in Canada. Overall, the Google Home is a more popular choice with 56% of monthly podcast consumers owning a Google and no Alexa compared to 63% of the adult population of Canadian smart speaker owners. When it comes to Amazon Alexa, though, 37% of podcast listener/smart speaker owners have one compared to 30% of the adult smart speaker owners in Canada. Seven percent of both groups own an Amazon Alexa AND a Google Home.














About  The Podcast Consumer Canada 2018:  In Q1 2018, Edison Research conducted a national telephone survey of 1,000 Canadians aged 18 and older, using random digit dialing techniques to both cell phones and landlines. The survey was offered in both English and French, and the data is weighted to national 18+ population figures.

microphone podcast

Podcasting’s Next Frontier: A Manifesto For Growth

Just two weeks ago Edison Research’s Senior Vice President Tom Webster was at the world’s largest gathering of podcasters, Podcast Movement 2018, in Philadelphia. Tom’s keynote address, Podcasting’s Next Frontier: 100 Million Listeners, shed light on the gap between the awareness of the term “podcasting” and the actual listening behavior of American adults.

While 64% of Americans aged 18+ (180 million) say they are familiar with the term “podcasting,” only 17% (48 million) have listened to a podcast in the last week.

In the wake of Podcast Movement 2018, Tom has published a must-read piece that specifically addresses steps that the industry should recognize and take to increase consumption of podcasts.

What follows is, by Tom’s own admission, a long article. We believe it is well worth your time to read it — to see the charts — to watch the video of people who have never listened to a podcast. Podcasting’s Next Frontier: A Manifesto For Growth examines the state of podcasting and the steps needed to achieve growth.

Click here to read Podcasting’s Next Frontier: A Manifesto For Growth


The Next Frontier in Podcasting: 100 Million Listeners

Edison Research’s Senior Vice President Tom Webster presented a keynote address, The Next Frontier in Podcasting: 100 Million Listeners, at the 2018 Podcast Movement conference in Philadelphia last week. Podcast Movement is the world’s largest gathering of podcasters, and attendees were the first to hear the results of new research from Edison on consumers who are familiar with the term “podcasting” but have never listened to a podcast.

The number of Americans who are familiar with the term “podcasting” has dramatically increased in the past several years, but there are far fewer people who actually listen.

  • 64% of Americans aged 18+, a total of 180 million people, are familiar with the term “podcasting” in 2018. That’s up from 22% in 2006.
  • The number of people who actually listened to a podcast in the last week is significantly smaller than those who are familiar with the term. Only 17% of Americans aged 18+, a total of 48 million people, in 2018 have listened to a podcast in the last week.

The key to moving from 48 million weekly podcast listeners to the 100 million mark is understanding why those people familiar with the term “podcasting” have never listened.


Some of the reasons uncovered are actual barriers, such as not understanding how to listen to a podcast, and some are perceived barriers, such as the belief that podcasts use a great deal of a phone’s data.

Thirty-seven percent of those who are familiar with the term “podcasting” but have never listened, say they don’t really understand what a podcast is, and almost half say they are not sure how to listen to a podcast.



Despite the fact that many smartphones in the U.S. have pre-installed podcast apps, 80% of those who have never listened to a podcast believe that they don’t have a podcast app. In addition to perceived barriers with hardware when it comes to podcasts, there are misperceptions about the amount of data a podcast might use. Sixty-two percent say that listening to podcasts can use up a lot of their phone’s data plan.

The research was conducted with a sample of 1,000 adults aged 18+, using an online survey. All respondents were familiar with podcasting. The data was weighted toThe Infinite Dial , the longest-running study of consumer usage of media and technology from Edison Research and Triton Digital.