Share of Ear · January 22, 2015

Share Of Ear® Study Shows Dramatic Increase In Podcasting Consumption

By Edison Research

In the Spring 2014 Share of Ear® study (a syndicated research series from Edison Research), we took a first look at how much of the total audio consumed by Americans was devoted to podcasts. Compared to the entire audio universe–every available minute of radio, Internet radio, music files, Satellite and more–podcasts occupied a single digit percentage of America’s total audio listening. But when we looked specifically at only those Americans who listen to podcasts, we got a different story–if you listen to podcasts, you listen to a lot of podcasts.

Well, we are now rolling out the updated, Fall 2014 Share of Ear®  study to clients, and there are some significant trends. For podcasting, there is no more remarkable finding than this: if you are a daily listener of podcasts, you listen to more podcast audio than any other form of audio, as the graph below illustrates:


Let’s break this graph down a bit. First of all, to be clear, this graph refers to the percentage of total audio time, not a percentage of listeners or users. This chart shows all of the time spent listening to various forms of audio by those Americans who listened to at least one podcast in the last 24 hours. For the first time, we can report that podcast listeners are now listening to more podcast audio than any other form of audio (click to Tweet). In the Spring study, podcasts were a close second to AM/FM radio, but today we see AM/FM fall to third amongst podcast listeners. And while we have no doubt that Serial has contributed to this phenomenon (we fielded during the apex of Serial’s popularity), it doesn’t explain all of this finding. This is, indeed, going to be a big year for podcasting, and this is but our first clue.

A couple of other notes: first of all, the total share of podcast listening amongst all Americans increased by 18% over our Spring study, which is a significant jump. It’s also worth noting the statistic that is in the caption to the graph above: Podcast listeners (as defined) spend an average of 6 hours and 8 minutes each day listening to any form of audio. The average American spends a skosh over 4 hours per day listening to audio. What this means is that while some of the shift in podcast listening has come from other forms of media (in particular, AM/FM Radio,) much of it is simply new listening, as podcast consumers continue to bring their podcasts with them into environments and settings where they previously might not have consumed audio.

There is another implication here, however, in the shift from AM/FM Radio to podcasts with these listeners: the importance of Talk programming. The “long tail” nature of podcasts is far better able to serve the passions and interests of individual listeners than mainstream broadcast programming, but with breakout hits such as Serial, the long tail might be starting to wag the dog a little–and this may broaden the appeal of talk audio programming in general. Podcasting is a content play in its purest form–and as more and more Americans discover the medium, AND discover content that is compelling to them, we are going to continue to see interesting migrations in listening habits amongst these Americans.

Finally, when we looked at all of the listening hours available in our nationally representative Fall 2014 Share of Ear®  study, teased out the hours devoted to podcasting, and projected this across the U.S. population, we came up with this remarkable number: Americans listen to approximately 21,117,000 hours of podcast audio each and every day (click to Tweet).

We at Edison are incredibly bullish about podcasting and podcast measurement, and these figures are a pretty good reason why.

This finding is the second public release from the Fall 2014 Share of Ear®  report. Share of Ear® , a twice-yearly tracking study, is unique among audio measurement studies in that it evaluates all forms of audio, including AM/FM radio, streaming audio, owned music, podcasts, SiriusXM satellite radio, TV ‘cable radio’ channels (such as Music Choice), and others. The study is available via subscription. For more information, contact

How the Study was Conducted:

Edison Research conducted a nationally representative study of 2,021 Americans ages 13 and older to measure their time spent listening to audio sources. Respondents completed a 24-hour diary of their audio listening on an assigned day. Diaries were completed both online and by-mail using a paper diary. Online diaries were completed November 4-15, 2014 and diaries by-mail were completed October 14-20, 2014. Diaries were completed in both English and Spanish.

About Edison Research

Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients, including Activision, AMC Theatres, Disney, Dolby Laboratories, Google, Gulf News, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Pandora, Samsung, Siemens, Sony, Time Warner and Yahoo. Edison Research works with many of the largest American radio ownership groups, including Bonneville, Emmis, Entercom, CBS Radio and Radio One. Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Edison Research is the sole provider of election exit poll data for the National Election Pool comprised of ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC and the Associated Press. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue.

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