Spotify #1 for podcasts in the U.S., according to Cumulus/Signal Hill report

Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights have released their Podcast Download – Fall 2021 Report, which finds Spotify is now the number one listening source for podcasts in the U.S.

The study, fielded online between Sept. 30 and Oct. 29, was executed from a nationally representative sample of 600 weekly podcast listeners, 18+, who spent at least one hour listening to podcasts in the past week. The report also looked at heavy podcast listeners (those who listen 6+ hours per week) as well as podcast pioneers (those who started listening 4+ years ago) and podcast newcomers (those who listened to their first podcast in the past 12 months).

It found that as the podcast “big three” – YouTube, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify – expand share, Spotify is now the single leading listening destination for podcasts with 24% of survey respondents citing the platform as their go-to for accessing podcasts, followed by Apple Podcasts (20%) and YouTube (19%). In two years, the combined share of the big three has grown from 55% to 63%.

Other findings from the seventh edition of the study, which also looks at content, social audio and advertising trends, included that:

  • Podcast newcomers who started listening last year are more likely to be women. 60% of those who began listening to podcasts in the last year are women. Women represent 43% of the audience who began listening to podcasts four or more years ago.
  • Podcast content preferences differ significantly by gender and demographic. Of the top five most-listened-to podcast genres among men and women, there are just two types of podcasts (Comedy and News/Current Events) in common. Among men, the top five content genres also include Sports, Technology, and Business. Among women, top podcast genres include Storytelling/Drama/True Crime, Entertainment/Pop Culture, and Education.
  • Social audio is no longer a one-brand category. Six social audio apps have similar usage and awareness – Facebook Live Audio Rooms, Twitter Spaces, Clubhouse, Discord Stage Channels, Reddit Talk, and Spotify Greenroom – have been listened to by 17-19% of the weekly podcast audience.

Suzanne Grimes, EVP, Marketing for Cumulus Media and President, Westwood One, noted that the report also uncovers a major opportunity for brand marketers, affirming that podcast advertising is now reaching tens of millions of younger consumers who have abandoned linear television for ad-free video streaming services.

The study indicates podcast listeners are heavy users of ad-free video streaming with two out of five weekly podcast listeners cord cutters who only watch ad-free video streaming.

Host-read ads continue to be preferred by podcast listeners, especially among women. As a result of hearing a podcast ad, heavy podcast listeners (those who listen 6+ hours per week) are more likely to have searched online for a product, made a purchase, used a promo code, or followed a brand on social.

According to the November Advertiser Perceptions study of 300 media agencies and marketers, 45% of brands and agencies say they are currently advertising in podcasts, up from 34% in 2020.


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