Podcasting stats are always interesting.

Back in April, as they do every year, Edison Research released their Infinite Dial report, which picks apart the podcasting landscape from a couple of perspectives.  This is the tenth year they have conducted the research and published the results.

A couple of initial figures to note – smartphone adoption, while still increasing, has slowed to a trickle, increasing by only 2% last year – but bringing the total number of smartphone owners to 83% of the population, while tablet ownership has decreased by 3%, now totaling only 50%.  Frankly, we find it hard to believe that 50% of the people out there have a tablet; including tablets designed for kids could skew that number to its current state.

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Smart speaker “awareness” shows the most growth in the stats regarding consumer adoption of technology and gadgets, and is certainly the area most poised for growth over the next few years.

smart speaker ownership

Obviously this leaves a lot of room for improvement, and it also doesn’t have any Apple products tallied into the survey, so it would stand to reason that getting your podcasting in order to convince people to want to play your episodes on smart speakers is a brilliant idea.

Monthly podcast listening still shows gains but leveling off

The number of people listening to podcasts on a monthly basis has started to level off, and currently sits at roughly 26%, although that is still 73 million people.  So one could say that the pie is still a large one, even though the slices are definitely getting smaller.

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The age 12-24 group showed the most increase in listeners monthly, and the lagging 55+ age group is still at a nominal 13% rate.  While this might seem to indicate that it’s a good idea to gear your podcast towards a younger demographic, listener loyalty is likely higher among the older crowd, since they tend to find something they like and stick with it.

Smarter people tend to listen to podcasts

While that’s certainly no surprise, the disparity in the numbers is definitely another reason to watch your target listener demographic closely and to keep the education level of your audience in mind.

podcasting consumers education level

It makes perfect sense, if you think about it – more highly educated people want to consume more information about topics they enjoy researching or keeping up to date with, as opposed to less educated people who aren’t so inclined.  We’ll just leave this statement here as it is.

Mobile listening is king, by an even larger percentage

The percentage of podcasts listened to via mobile devices has nearly doubled in the past 5 years.  In 2013, for instance, only 42% of people listened on mobile; today that figure is 76%.  No surprise there, it’s easy, it’s convenient and it helps to pass the time during commutes, at the gym, or other out of home activities.

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It will be interesting to see how these figures start to morph when more smart speaker data is available.  It’s not likely that people will walk around their homes with their phones if they can simply use a smart speaker to broadcast it while they are otherwise occupied.

Attention deficit, anyone?

Last but not least, we want to point out that only 43% of people surveyed actually listen to a podcast through to the end.  44% say they listen to most of a podcast, and the rest fall somewhere between listening to the beginning and listening to less than half of an episode.  This certainly makes podcasting harder – how do you determine what the best length is for an episode and tailor your material accordingly.

Another interesting, if unrelated, new idea in podcasting is turning books into podcasts instead of into audiobooks.

Companies such as Macmillan Publishing and Amazon’s Audible are working on translating books directly into podcast episodes, forgoing the traditional ‘books on tape’ setup for an episodic product.  Cashing in on the success of podcasts such as Serial is a potentially untapped revenue source for big media companies and startups alike.

Podcasting folks, take note, it does look like changes are coming down the pipe.