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June 17, 2024

Data: Podcasts ‘bright spot for publishers’ despite remaining ‘minority activity’

Digital News Report data shows podcast listeners are younger, wealthier and more likely to be men.

By Bron Maher

Nearly half of American and Spanish respondents to the 2024 Reuters Institute Digital News Report reported listening to a podcast in the previous month — the highest reach for the format among 20 countries surveyed.

Spain and the US (both 44%) were closely followed by Ireland and Sweden (43%) and Norway and Portugal (42%).

The UK (31%) came in 15th, behind Italy (32%) and ahead of the Netherlands (31%) and Germany (30%).

Podcasts had the least reach in any of the countries examined in Japan, where just over a quarter of respondents reported listening to a podcast monthly.

News podcasts struggle to grow market share, but overall podcast listenership growing

Although a "minority activity overall", the Digital News Report authors described podcasting as a "bright spot for publishers", with 13% of all respondents internationally saying they accessed a news or current affairs podcast specifically each month compared to 12% last year.

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Across all countries, 35% of people said they were accessing any kind of podcast monthly, compared to 34% in 2023.

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Although the overall proportion of people listening to podcasts has grown, the authors noted that "the share of podcast listening for news shows has remained roughly the same as it was seven years ago".

In the 2023 report the US was the country with the highest proportion of listeners using podcasts for news, with 19% of respondents accessing a news podcast monthly compared with 12% internationally. However country-specific data for news podcast listenership has not been broken out in the 2024 report.

Podcasts attracting younger, educated, wealthier and disproportionately male listeners

The authors wrote that podcasts are being used by publishers as “a way of addressing the engagement challenge” as a format that is “less immediately reliant on platform algorithms”.

However they also observed that podcasts "attract younger, richer and better educated audiences, with news and politics shows heavily skewed towards men" — something they attribute in part to "the dominance of male hosts".

Whereas 32% of women surveyed reported listening to a podcast monthly, it was 39% among men.

As has been observed previously, podcasts have much higher reach among younger consumers. Whereas a majority of respondents aged 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 said they listen to podcasts monthly, the percentage falls to 44% among those aged between 35 and 44, 32% among those 45 to 54 and 20% among those aged 55 and above.

[Read more: Podcasts continue to grow in popularity in UK as BBC reveals data insights]

The format is disproportionately used by better-educated people, with 47% of degree holder respondents saying they listen to podcasts versus 35% of low or medium educated respondents.

And income also correlates strongly to podcast listenership, with 44% of "high income" respondents listening to a podcast monthly compared with 29% of low earners.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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