Podcast Research · April 13, 2023

Hit Play, Boomer! Podcasting’s Age 55+ Opportunity from NPR and Edison Research

By edison

Click here to download Hit Play, Boomer! Podcasting’s Age 55+ Opportunity  from Edison Research and NPR

Scroll down to see a replay of the webinar

Boomers are Podcasting’s “Opportunity Demographic”

New report from Edison Research & NPR reveals that targeting the
age 55+ audience could deliver tens of millions of new listeners

Somerville, NJ (April 13, 2023) Released today by Edison Research and NPR, a new study finds that podcasting has a largely untapped audience in the age 55+ demographic. The study, “Hit Play, Boomer,” was presented in a live webinar hosted by Edison Research President Larry Rosin. 

The new data reveals that while podcast listening has grown dramatically over the last five years overall, listening among “Baby Boomers” has not grown and is at a far lower level than younger demographics. According to the report from Edison Research and NPR, Boomers have the tools and the interest to listen, but increased education and targeting are required.

“Our current estimate is that 120 million Americans age 12 and older are listening to podcasts on a monthly basis,” said Edison Research President and Baby Boomer Larry Rosin. “If Boomers’ levels of listening to podcasts matched that of younger groups, even just 35-54 year olds, that would mean these numbers would go to over 150 million monthly listeners.  Boomers have the tools to listen and the interest, now the podcast industry just needs to finish the education process.” 

Key findings, presented today in a live webinar, include: 

  • While a strong majority (70%) of Boomers are aware of podcasting, less than half have ever tried one. However, more than half of Boomers listen to some other form of online audio, implying immediate upside potential for podcasting.
  • Boomers have the tools to listen to podcasts, with four in five owning a smartphone and more than 60% owning a smart TV.  The challenge is to get them to use these devices for podcast listening.
  • Boomers who do listen to podcasts over-index for listening to news podcasts by a huge margin, and by smaller margins to history, religion, and science podcasts. Closing the technical gap and making podcast listening easier, while finding more pathways to their topics of interest, is a key.
  • Those in the 55+ age group have historically shown much higher numbers for direct response advertising and for direct appeals for funding. The right programming and the right messaging can make this target attractive not only to advertisers but perhaps for subscription, donation, or other financing models.

“NPR is pleased to have sponsored this investigation into podcasting among those age 55 and older,” said Susan Leland, Director of Audience Insights at NPR. “Our mission is to serve Americans of all ages with the finest quality audio news, information, and entertainment.  Understanding where this group is today will allow us and the whole podcasting industry to open new pathways for growth among this largely untapped age group.”

About the study
Hit Play, Boomer! Podcasting’s Age 55+ Opportunity from NPR and Edison Research includes data from Edison Research’s Share of Ear dataset, a quarterly survey of Americans who keep a one-day diary of their audio usage. Share of Ear utilizes a nationally representative sample of those age 13+. “Boomers” are classified as those respondents in the Share of Ear dataset age 55 or older. The study also includes in-depth interviews which were conducted with a sample of Americans age 55 or older in Q1 of 2023. Half of the interviewees are podcast listeners and half have never listened to a podcast. 

About NPR
NPR’s rigorous reporting and unsurpassed storytelling that connects with millions of Americans every day — on the air, online, and in-person. NPR strives to create a more informed public — one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas, and cultures. With a nationwide network of award-winning journalists and 17 international bureaus, NPR and its Member Stations are never far from where a story is unfolding. Listeners can find NPR by tuning in to their local Member Stations (npr.org/stations), and now it’s easy to listen to our stories on smart speaker devices. Ask your smart speaker to, “Play NPR,” and you’ll be tuned into your local Member Station’s live stream. Your speaker can also access NPR podcasts, NPR One, NPR News Now, and the Visual Newscast is available for screened speakers. Get more information at npr.org/about and by following NPR Extra on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Edison Research
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients worldwide, having conducted research in 66 countries. Edison Research’s The Infinite Dial® series has been the survey of record for digital audio, social media, podcasting, smart speakers, and other media-related technologies since 1998. The company’s Share of Ear® survey is the only single-source measure of all audio in the U.S. Edison Research is the leading podcast research company in the world, producing the only survey-based data on podcast listening in the U.S, Edison Podcast Metrics, and has conducted research for many companies in the space. Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of election data, race projections and analysis to the National Election Pool (ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News) for every presidential primary and general election.


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