Podcasts continue to grow in the U.S. (and globally). Heading into 2023 there are more than 5 million podcasts with over 70 million episodes available. The U.S. is the largest market with 100 million active listeners, up from 82 million in 2021. With a desirable target audience for marketers, the U.S. podcast ad dollars are projected to increase from $1.4 billion in 2021 to $4 billion by 2024.
With such positive trendlines, Triton Digital, an audience measurement company, recently released their first annual year-end podcast report in the U.S. covering 2022. Using a variety of sources, the report highlights where, what and who were listening to podcasts. In a press release Daryl Battaglia, SVP Measurement Products & Strategy, Triton Digital said, “As the podcast industry continues to grow, we look forward to sharing these insights to help publishers and advertisers make more informed decisions. Podcasting is an engaging and powerful storytelling medium and our inaugural year-end podcast report acts on our commitment to provide our customers with credible, insightful and trusted data around the consumption of podcast content and listener habits.”
Triton Digital reports, year-over-year, the number of podcast downloads increased by 20% in 2022, In addition, throughout last year each listener downloaded an average of 3.8 hours of content each week, an increase from 2.7 hours in 2021. On average, listeners downloaded 5.6 episodes each week throughout the year. Anecdotally, Triton found Wednesday to be the most popular day of podcast listening and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (ET) the most popular time period. In 2022 Triton found October to be the most popular month for downloads with an average of 241 million each week compared to an weekly average of 226 million for the entire year.
Overall, podcast listeners tend to be male and younger than the general population. In addition, podcast listeners tend to have a higher household income than the national average, have attained a higher education level and be more ethnically diverse than the overall U.S. population.
With the midterm elections, January 6 Committee hearings and the Russian invasion of Ukraine making headlines, news was the most popular genre downloaded with a 23% share. The audience profile for news downloads were adults age 55+, a college graduate and a Republican.
With a 17% share, comedy was another popular genre to download; the audience skewing toward adults 25-54, a student and Hispanic. Listening to comedy was more prevalent on Spotify and YouTube than other sources. True crime had a 15% share, the listener profile females 25-34 being the dominant age group.
Triton points out that while true crime had more downloads per episode, the news genre produced a higher frequency of episodes each month. Conversely, news podcasts had a median of 24 monthly downloads, compared to eight for the average top 100 podcast.
In every month of 2022 Stitcher led, by a wide margin, as the top sales network averaging 56.8 million downloads each week. Triton reports NPR with an average of 33.0 million weekly downloads edged out the Audacy Podcast Network which had an average of 32.3 million weekly downloads for 2022. Wondery, benefiting from new content and some strategic acquisitions, was one of the fastest growing sales networks of 2022 winding up with 24.5 million weekly downloads. Rounding out the top five was Cumulus with an average of 20.3 million downloads each week.
Triton reports in total, the most downloaded podcast in 2022 was NPR News Now (NPR), followed by Crime Junkie (audiochuck/Stitcher Media), The Ben Shapiro Show (Cumulus), Dateline NBC (NBCUniversal News Group) and Morbid (Wondery). In addition, the most popular new podcast of the year was Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra (NBCUniversal News Group), followed by The Deck (Stitcher Media).
The Triton report also broke out the three most downloaded podcasts by various population demographics, market breaks and political affiliation. For example:
Females: Watch What Crappens (Stitcher Media); True Crime Obsessed (Audioboom); The Viall Files (Kast Media)
Males: StarTalk Radio (Stitcher Media); IMPAULSIVE
(Kast Media); Mad Money with Jim Cramer (NBCUniversal New Group)
Age 18-34: Zane and Heath: Unfiltered (Audioboom); Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain (Audacy); H3 Podcast (The Roost Podcast Network)
HHI $100,000+: The Daily Stoic (Wondery), CounterClock (Stitcher Media); Mad Money with Jim Cramer (NBCUniversal News Group)
Democrats: Pod Save the World (Stitcher Media); The Dollop with Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds (All Things Comedy); What A Day (Stitcher Media)
Republicans: The Charlie Kirk Show (Salem); The Michael Knowles Show (Cumulus); The Dan Bongino Show (Cumulus)
At 94%, Triton found that mobile is, by a wide margin, the most popular device for listening to podcasts. Conversely, listening via smart speakers dropped to 1.8% among all devices, half the percentage from the pandemic year of 2020 and matching the percentage from 2019. Apple Podcasts and Spotify were podcast leaders. Spotify has more listeners with Apple Podcasts having more total downloads and downloads per listener.
The report incorporates data from multiple sources, including Triton Digital’s IAB Tech Lab certified Podcast Metrics service, which measures server log data from Triton’s Omny Studio platform and a variety of other industry hosting platforms. It also includes data from Triton’s Podcast Metrics Demos+ solution, which provides demographics and audience characteristics for podcasts of all sizes, as well as the Demos+ survey of 12,000 monthly podcast listeners in the U.S., done in collaboration with Signal Hill Insights.