Podcast Audience Numbers May Be Even Higher Than Considered


As US podcast audience numbers hit record highs according to Edison Research’s Infinite Dial 2024, a MARU/Matchbox study finds that current podcast audience measurement metrics may be making a critical omission that vastly undersells the medium.

The Spring 2024 edition of the Podcast Download series, initiated by Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights, offers an in-depth analysis of podcast consumption patterns.

The biannual study, which surveyed 603 weekly podcast listeners over a week in April, uncovered that podcast consumption frequently involves co-listening, where multiple listeners are engaged with a single podcast episode, which is not accounted for in traditional audience metrics.

This scenario parallels the underestimation seen in other media like television, where audience counts often miss additional viewers. For podcasts, the presence of in-room devices like smart speakers and connected TVs, as well as in-car listening, significantly contribute to this undercounted audience. Understanding the extent of co-listening can help advertisers better evaluate the reach and impact of their campaigns.

Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group VP of Advertiser Measurement & Insights Lauren Vetrano said, “Since the dawn of podcast advertising, selling estimates based on downloads, listens, or views never contemplated a device utilized by multiple people.”

“Whether it be with kids, friends, or family, the podcast industry is leaving ears on the table. There is a richer consumption story to be told as it is not just one person per download. For agencies and media planners, being able to examine co-listening by genre or podcast can offer invaluable insights into reaching the true audience.”

Other key findings of the latest Podcast Download included how YouTube continues to dominate as the most favored platform for podcast listening after a rapid rise in popularity following the shuttering of Google Podcasts. 31% of respondents choose YouTube for listening to and discovering new series. Spotify and Apple Podcasts follow, with respective user preferences at 21% and 12%.

The study also highlights the demographics of podcast consumers, particularly listeners in the 18-34 age range, who are highly active in discovering and engaging with new podcasts. After discovering a podcast, 64% of women listen to back episodes, suggesting a thorough consumption pattern that can be leveraged by podcast creators for sustained listener engagement over time.

Outside of YouTube, younger listeners are finding new series via social media, especially TikTok, though this could be affected by Congress’ legislation against TikTok’s foreign ownership.

The full Podcast Download report can be viewed on the Cumulus Podcast Network site.

provides crucial insights that could help podcast creators and advertisers optimize their strategies to tap into undercounted audiences, exploit platform-specific advantages, and cater to the content consumption habits of highly engaged listeners. These insights not only challenge traditional assumptions about podcast audience sizes but also highlight the need for a more nuanced approach to measuring and monetizing podcast listener engagement.


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