Combining the intimacy of radio with the on-demand nature of modern media forms, podcasts are not only the last mass medium to emerge, but also one of the fastest-growing.
In 2016, podcast consumption rocketed. The range of listening options, the variety of ways that consumers can access and consume podcasts and the diverse range of people that are using this medium to ensure that their voice is heard, or to listen to a wider range of diverse voices, has meant that more and more of us are tuning in to our favorite podcast at home, on our commute or at the gym.
So who are the people that are listening to these shows? A recent survey by Acast showed that in 2016, the typical podcast listener is not the tech savvy 30-something man you might assume, but in fact a woman, working full time and aged between 25 and 34.
I’ve reviewed how the podcast landscape has changed in the last year, and shared my observations, as well as my predictions for the year ahead, below.
The typical podcast listener in 2016 was a young woman
Let’s focus on women for a second; The typical podcast listener in 2016 was a woman, aged between 25 and 34, in full time employment.
These women are not just looking for shows that help motivate them to work out, eat better and meditate more, they want content that they can relate to, that speaks to them and that means something to them.
In 2016 we welcomed Work Wives, Joblogues and The Broad Experience, to the Acast platform. These shows are hosted by real, everyday women, talking about real, every day things. From relatable (and amusing) office chat with your work wife about pubic grooming and cohabitation, to real, frank career advice from the girls at Joblogues, these shows are made for, and listened to by, our core demographic.
These female podcasters share our listeners’ interests and everyday challenges, but might also be able to teach them a thing or two.
The podcast audience is becoming more diverse, and so is the way that we access podcasts
The podcast audience is becoming more diverse overall, and with a more diverse audience, comes new platforms for sharing audio content, as new ways of consuming podcasts emerge.
We’ve seen a significant change in the route that the audio consumer of 2016 takes to the discovery of a new podcast, and this change is likely to become a continuous trend in 2017.
Consumers are moving away from services like iTunes and other streaming services and apps, instead they are discovering new podcasts in their own social media feed, through communities that they are part of, or through other media.
A recent example of this trend is the audience of the podcast ‘Ask A Clean Person’, whose host writes a regular column for men’s lifestyle magazine, Esquire. Fifty per cent of ‘Ask A Clean Person’ listeners have discovered the podcast by following her Esquire column, or coming across her shareable cleaning advice elsewhere, rather than by having actively searched for the podcast in an app or via a streaming service, and many of these listeners are ones that do not usually listen to podcasts.
Listeners want a 360 experience
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons, and Gretchen Rubin’s Happier are both the podcasts of bestselling authors, with dedicated fans and inspired communities.
The majority of the listeners of these two podcasts are great examples of communities looking for a multi-platform offering, a 360 experience which allows them to properly commit to and engage in the things that they love. Listeners of these shows can communicate with the hosts on social media while also reading their book and discussing their work with friends via a dedicated fan forum.
This works on the flip side, too. Podcasters can now create a brand via their podcast, and can carve out really successful careers as their show gains momentum. The hosts of My Dad Wrote a Porno recently launched a book, and embarked on a live tour, where they carried out live shows.
The stresses of being exposed to the extreme amounts of content of these days on a daily basis, might explain the urge to fully commit to the things that we truly love. Another reason might be that the average podcast listener is in full-time employment and with a comfortable disposable income, allowing them to treat themselves to just that, fully committing.
Live podcasts are becoming the new music gigs
An increasing amount of podcast hosts have, in 2016, decided to take a step away from the studio microphone and instead entered the live venues – and the listeners are following!
Podcasts such as The Heart, Call Your Girlfriend and My Dad Wrote a Porno are just some examples of podcasters that, in the last year, with little to no effort, have managed to convince listeners to take their headphones out and, rather than going to see a live music gig, join them for a live podcast performance or recording.
Having proved so popular in the year of 2016, we predict that even more of us will be going to see our favorite podcasters perform live in 2017, and that this could become just as common as going to see a comedian or a musician live on stage.
Regardless of how the landscape evolves, the commitment of the listeners proves that podcasts are here to stay, and I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring.
Caitlin Thompson is US Director of Content at Podcasting platform, Acast.
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