Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
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5 key podcasting trends from the Digital News Report 2019

headphones on sidewalk

The Reuters Institute’s recently-released Digital News Report 2019 surveyed more than 75,000 people across 38 markets on their news consumption habits. 

As part of this, they explored the changes in audio consumption, and the growth in podcast listening around the world.

Here, we’ve picked out five key podcasting trends from the report to shed some light on who is listening, when, and why.

1: Young people are very engaged with podcasts

It’s widely known that young people are more likely to listen to podcasts, but the report highlights just how wide the differences are in generational behaviour. 

The pattern is the same around the world, but to take Sweden as an example, 59% of 18-24 year olds listen to a podcast monthly, as well as 57% of 25-34 year olds. 

However, just 16% of people aged 55+ have listened to a podcast within the last month. That’s not to say this older audience aren’t consuming audio content at all, just that they’re much more likely to listen to the radio instead.

2: Most people listen to podcasts at home

A popular assumption is that podcasts are listened to on the commute, but in fact, the majority of podcasts are listened to in the home by 58% of people. 

The reason for the home being such a popular listening spot is almost certainly down to the fact that podcasts are something that can be done while multi-tasking – such as cooking or doing the laundry.

That’s not to say that commutes aren’t a common time to listen. Among under 35’s, 30% listen when on public transport, and a further 24% when using their own cars or other private transport.

3: Just 8% of podcasts are listened to on a smart speaker

Given the above, it’s surprising to note that 55% of podcasts are listened to on a smartphone in the UK, and just 8% through a smart speaker – even less than the 18% of people who listen to a podcast through a desktop! 

That’s despite smart speaker usage growing by 98.6% last year, with an estimated 9.5 million smart speaker users.

It may be the case that smart speaker users haven’t yet realised podcasts can usually be accessed in the same way as music on the devices. 

But it is also likely that because podcasts are a more active listening experience, smart speakers – which are often used for more bite-sized content or background music – aren’t the best place for podcasts just yet.  

4: Most people listen to podcasts for personal interest, or to learn something new

The survey asked listeners about the reasons why they listened to podcasts, and the main reasons were to keep updated about topics of personal interest for 46% of respondents, or to learn something new (39%). 

Although reasons were relatively consistent around the world, there was a big difference across age groups, even in the ‘younger’ age brackets.

The youngest group of 18-24s were much less interested in keeping updated on topics compared to their older counterparts, with just 27% in the UK citing this as the main reason compared to 54% of 25-34’s, but instead saw podcasts as a change from music (36%) or as a way to stay entertained (51%).

5: South Korea is the biggest consumer of podcasts

Globally, 36% of people accessed a podcast in the last month, up from 34% in 2018. But it is South Korea which tops the leaderboard, with 53% of respondents from the country saying that they have recently listened to a podcast.

Spain is in second place, with 39% of people regularly listening, closely followed by Ireland with 37%. 

Surprisingly given the proliferation of English-language podcasts, the UK is near the bottom of this list, with just 21% of people saying they listened to a podcast within the last month.

But in the UK the difference in consumption between different age groups is more extreme, with under 35s consuming half of all podcasts.

All charts via the Digital News Report 2019