Who's Listening to Podcasts? - eMarketer
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Who's Listening to Podcasts?

While many people still haven't heard of podcasting, many others can't wait to hear more.

January 10, 2006

There is little argument - perhaps with the exception of VoIP - that podcasting was the breakout Internet phenomenon of 2005. It changed the listening habits of millions of consumers and affected the way radio — and to an extent, television — broadcasters communicated to their audiences.

Bridge Ratings found that approximately 5 million radio listeners downloaded at least one podcast in 2005, and that figure will nearly double in 2006 — and double again in 2007.

US Radio Listeners Who Have Ever Downloaded a Podcast*, 2004-2010 (millions)

Now a new survey of one thousand online adults (18+), commissioned by Podtrac and conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS), sheds some light on exactly who is doing the downloading.

According to the survey, one in three respondents, 32%, are familiar with the term "podcasting," which means, of course, that about two-thirds of the population (even online) still knows little or nothing about podcasting.

Only about one-third, again 32%, of those who are familiar with the term have ever actually listened to a podcast — that translates to roughly 9% of the online population. And two in five, 41%, of them have listened to a podcast in the past seven days.

The demographic breakdown is more intriguing. On one hand, 78% of those who have ever listened to a podcast are male. However, of that group, women are more likely than men to have listened in the past week.

US Adult Podcast Downloaders Who Have Listened to a Podcast in the Past 7 Days, by Gender, 2005 (% of respondents in each group)

"With podcasting just over a year old, the current maleness of the podcast audience at the aggregate level is consistent with gender usage trends of the early Web," said Mark McCrery, Podtrac's CEO. "The fact that so many women who have listened to podcasts have done so recently signals the beginning of a trend toward a more balanced gender composition of the podcast audience."

One gentleman, however, is getting into podcasts in a very big way.

Dan Safkow of Aliso Viejo, California, claims to have had it with mainstream media. He is "divorcing" television and radio, donating his video and audio entertainment devices to charity on December 31st, 2005, and relying on podcasting as his only source for home entertainment throughout the year 2006.

"I'm bored as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!" he said.

Junking old technology is not a new idea, of course.

On January 1st, 2000, DotComGuy (yes, he legally changed his name) moved into an empty townhouse in Dallas vowing to go nowhere, use no communications other than the Internet and to buy all his necessities online for year. As USA Today reported: "Corporate sponsors hoped DotComGuy's stunt — and his dependence on the Internet — would encourage others to use cyberspace for transactions normally reserved for the storefront."

After the year was up, DotComGuy emerged from his townhouse none the worse for wear, married a girl he had met in his chatroom, changed his name back to Mitch Maddox and has largely been forgotten.

After all, millions of people "live on the Internet" now.

Will whole scale adoption of podcasting follow the same path? Check back at the beginning of 2007 and see.

For more information on related topics, read eMarketer's recently published Mobile Entertainment report.

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