Westwood One’s Podcast Download — Fall 2020 Report Reveals New Podcast Platform, Content and Advertising Trends

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Fourth Annual Fall Study Finds Listeners Using More Platforms, Spotify and YouTube Gain Ground on Apple as the Most Used Platform 

Four out of Five Listeners Have Taken Action After Hearing a Podcast Advertisement 

CUMULUS MEDIA’s Westwood One, America’s largest audio network, today released Westwood One’s Podcast Download – Fall 2020 Report, a comprehensive evaluation incorporating several studies that examine podcast audience and advertiser trends over the past five years. The fourth annual study was released to coincide with the IAB Podcast Upfront as part of Westwood One’s commitment to share insights and research findings with the podcast community. The most notable stories to emerge from the study relate to podcast platforms. Other topics covered in the Podcast Download Report include usage trends, content trends, and advertising trends.

“The podcast platform wars are heating up. In this year’s report, Spotify is closing in on Apple as the most used podcast platform, and YouTube is growing as well,” said Suzanne Grimes, EVP, Marketing for CUMULUS MEDIA and President, Westwood One. “There’s good news for advertisers too. Podcast listeners embrace advertising. Four out of five podcast listeners have taken an action after hearing a podcast ad, and an increasing number of listeners feel podcast ads are relevant and memorable.”

The Fall 2020 edition reveals valuable insights for content creators and advertisers. Some highlights from the report: 

  • Podcasting is “pandemic proof”: By any measure, podcast audiences have steadily grown and strengthened over the last four years, despite the recent COVID-19 crisis. Weekly time spent has grown year over year, especially among men and Millennials 18-34s.  Consumers who recently began listening to podcasts are forming much stronger audience habits in 2020.
  • Listeners are using more platforms: Weekly podcast audiences are increasing the number of podcast platforms they’re using to listen.
  • Women represent a significant proportion of newly arrived podcast listeners: Among those who began their podcast listening habit in the last year, two-thirds are women. Since 2017, weekly time spent among women has grown +27% versus +14% for men.
  • Spotify closes the gap: When asked to indicate the place most used to access podcasts, listeners say Apple is still is the number one destination.  However, Spotify is closing the gap while YouTube increases as well.
“Use the most to access the podcasts you listen to”July 2019July 2020
Apple Podcasts26%22%
Spotify15%20%
YouTube14%16%
Google Podcasts5%6%
  • Platform usage is shifting on smart phones: Among Apple phone owners, there’s been a decrease in Apple Podcasts use, while Spotify has grown. Among Android users, where a podcast app isn’t built in, Spotify and YouTube are seeing the most growth in use since July 2019.
  • While consumers tend to avoid ads on video and digital platforms, podcast listeners embrace ads: The more consumers listen to podcasts, the more ads they’ll accept. There is a strong understanding that advertising is what supports listeners’ favorite podcasts. Many say they wouldn’t mind a couple of extra ads so their favorite podcasts can continue. Podcast ad appeal has improved as well – weekly listeners find podcast ads more engaging, relevant, and memorable.


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