Podcasts are an interesting medium, considering they’ve been around for over a decade and have really seemed to pick up most of its momentum in the past couple years. I remember delivering food my last couple years of college and after talk radio, audiobooks, and listening to the same mix CDs day in day out finally lost its appeal, podcasts filled the void – even if there were only a couple dozen at the time (for the record, I had listened to every single This American Life and Stuff You Should Know for quite some time). Now with well over a quarter million different podcasts, it kind of seems like “everyone has a podcast nowadays” (if you have a minute, there’s a hilarious clip from the show Portlandia about ‘everyone being a DJ’ – NSFW) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSSjMUJOYzw

Even if you don’t record your own podcast every week, becoming a guest on a podcast as a professional in your industry is pretty commonplace.

With there being so many choices in what to listen to, it makes podcast engagement paradoxically overwhelming but exciting. Since it seems pretty apparent that podcasts have solidified their stance as an official medium for information, I wanted to survey 500 people via Mechanical Turk and gauge if podcasts have prevailed over textual content, and even video/visual content, since video has been a preferred method of receiving information for so long (which are themselves evolving, as more and more people are watching videos without audio and are relying on either auto-generated or manual captions.)

So let’s look at some numbers about podcasts that we got from the general survey pool, and then break it down afterward by age group:

Are Podcasts Your Preferred Medium for Getting Information?

Yes 61.15%
No 38.85%

In this most interesting opening to any of our surveys, 61.15% of respondents claimed that they prefer podcasts over any other medium of information, which included blogs/articles/guides/textual, videos, books, etc. We can also break down this response by age group:

18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+
Yes 75.93% 65.73% 55.56% 44.44% 46.88%
No 24.07% 34.27% 44.44% 55.56% 53.13%

As the respondents got older, their preference in podcasts diminished somewhat significantly, so depending on your typical audience, providing information via podcast may matter more. The way I see this trend is that the younger groups will continuously favor podcasts over time as they are essentially “growing up” with podcasts being so diverse and accessible, opposed to it being a preferred option for information out of simply age. This is also verified by the next question we asked:

How Much More/Less Do You Plan on Engaging With Podcasts in 2021?

Much Less 2.60%
Less 5.70%
Same 39.90%
More 35.80%
Much More 16.10%

The trend continues by the statement that only 8.3% of respondents planned on reeling their podcast listening back in 2021. With the majority claiming, “the same,” about half of the respondents planned on listening to podcasts even more this year.

18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+
How Much More Podcast
Much Less 3.85% 2.17% 4.17% 0.00% 3.03%
Less 3.85% 9.24% 1.39% 4.44% 0.00%
Same 32.69% 35.33% 50.00% 46.67% 45.45%
More 34.62% 34.24% 37.50% 37.78% 39.39%
Much More 25.00% 19.02% 6.94% 11.11% 12.12%

 The youngest crowd kept their predictable trend by having the most enthusiasm for “much more.”

With the trend being heavily “more” and “much more,” how much is more? We ask that in the next question:

18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+
Average Time 221.02 201.44 164.35 213.58 188.12

What I did find interesting was the trend for what was the main purpose of listening to podcasts – for entertainment or for education.The average person across the board listens to podcasts for roughly 3 hours a week (seems much less than TV when you think about it). With podcasts ranging from 20 minutes to 60 minutes, with some freeform podcasts going into the hours, that would leave people with only a finite amount of time to enjoy a handful of podcasts. I didn’t ask what a preference on podcast length would be, but I would imagine that question is very subjective and depends on the topics. I did think it was interesting that there wasn’t an age group that far and away listened to podcasts much more/less.

It turns out that our youngest demo is pretty close on the education/entertainment split, with the largest disparity around 35-44, and widening the gap largely at 55+. This may be something to consider when you’re producing content with a known age range for your information – should your content be largely educational or entertaining, or is it important that you maintain some aspects of both to keep your listeners engaged?

The last questions I asked were:

On a scale from 1-10, how do you perceive the quality of the content on podcasts?

18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+
Quality of Content 6.32 6.72 5.72 5.73 7.20

On a scale from 1-10, how important is the audio quality of the podcast itself?

18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+
Quality of Audio 8.12 8.04 8.02 7.98 9.11

Another interesting aspect of podcasts is that it doesn’t seem that their content has to be outstanding for there to be a strong following. This makes sense with podcasters often times being amateurs, often times off the cuff without consistent clear agendas and degrees of production. What makes podcasts so appealing with these shortcomings are:

  • Ease of access
  • The personalities of the podcasters
  • Ease of downloading, streaming options
  • The endless options for topics and interests

One aspect of podcasts that cannot be overlooked is the audio quality of a podcast, meaning that doing recordings on a cell phone or a headset mic are not going to cut it. It is often times the biggest reason podcasts get negative reviews – no post-production/editing and poor recording devices.

Getting Started on a Podcast

Getting started on a podcast of your own can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Ready to start a podcast of your own? Here’s a list of the basic stuff you’ll need.

When looking to record and disperse a podcast, consider hosting on Podbean. You can find some great information for beginner podcasters here.

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