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.

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