Study: podcasts on rise

Podcast listening is steadily growing in Australia, with one-third (32 per cent) of Australians saying they listened to podcasts in 2020, according to a new report from the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra.

The study, Podcast Trends and Issues in Australia and Beyond: Global Perspectives draws on information collected in the Digital News Report: Australia 2020 (DNR) and includes insight from various global contributors. Itis the first of the DNRSpecial Report Series and found that globally, 41 per cent of news consumers listened to podcasts in 2020.

The report has found that podcast listeners are young, affluent, highly educated and city-dwellers, with over half of Gen Z (57 per cent) and Gen Y (51 per cent) saying they listen to podcasts, while only 31 per cent of Gen X and 13 per cent of Baby Boomers listen.

YouTube is rising as a major platform for podcasts, with almost half of Australian podcast listeners (42 per cent) using YouTube to access podcasts. This is compared with those using Spotify (33 per cent) and Apple Podcasts (21 per cent).

“News podcast listeners are avid news consumers and have distinctive characteristics,” said lead author of the report, Dr Yoonmo Sang. “They are drawn to news podcasts largely due to news podcasts’ ability to cover diverse subjects and perspectives. It is also noteworthy that news podcast listeners are likely to seek podcasts that align with their viewpoint.”

“People often believe that technology infrastructure including the state of the Internet and mobile penetration is directly related to the popularity of podcasts in the country,” said Dr Sang. “However, interestingly, news consumers in less-connected countries are more likely to be news podcast listeners.”

Lead author of the Digital News Report: Australia, Dr Sora Park, says while there have been a few industry reports and studies on the rise of podcasting, none of them examined podcasting in a global context or investigated the role of podcasts in news.

“Next year’s DNRwill feature podcasting in more depth than in previous years,” said Dr Park. “The DNRteam will also continue to collaborate with our international partners to further investigate this growing trend.”

Other findings include:

  • In 2020, 11 per cent of Australian news consumers listened to news podcasts.
  • Specialist podcasts were the most popular among Australian news consumers (15 per cent), followed by lifestyle (12 per cent), news (11 per cent), contemporary life (11 per cent), and sport (7 per cent).
  • In Australia, 37 per cent of male news consumers listened to podcasts, while 28 per cent of female news consumers listened to podcasts. And 14 per cent of male news consumers listened to news podcasts, while 9 per cent of female news consumers listened to news podcasts.
  • The top reason given by Australians for listening to podcasts is because podcasts cover diverse subjects and perspectives compared to other forms of media (60 per cent).
  • News consumers who prefer news that share their point of view are more likely to listen to news podcasts (26 per cent) compared to those who prefer impartial news (16 per cent) and news that challenges their point of view (22 per cent).
  • In Australia, younger news consumers (under the age of 35) are more likely to pay for podcasts (43 per cent) than those 35 and older (33 per cent).
  • Australian news podcast listeners have a tendency to have a left-leaning political orientation with almost half (48 per cent) identifying themselves as left-wing.

The full report can be found here.

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