That percentage continues to increase as devices with digital audio capability, such as iPods and MP3 players, gain wider use and a larger selection of podcasts becomes available, Pew said.
Though podcast downloading is on the rise, it remains relatively uncommon on a daily basis. Among those who say they download podcasts, just 17% do so on a typical day. Men, people under age 50, and more experienced internet users are most likely to have downloaded a podcast.
Among the key findings of the Pew study:
- 22% of male internet users (vs. 16% of online women) report ever having downloaded a podcast.
- Men and women are equally likely (3%) to download podcasts on a typical day.
- 23% of those under 50 say they have downloaded a podcast and 4% “downloaded one yesterday,” compared with 13% and 1% of their older counterparts.
- The percentage of younger generations downloading podcasts has nearly doubled since 2006.
- Internet users with six or more years of internet experience are significantly more likely than those with less experience to have downloaded a podcast, and they are more likely to download podcasts on a typical day.
- Internet users with broadband access are more likely to download podcasts. Those who subscribe to premium home broadband services are even more likely to download podcasts.
The number of podcast offerings also is on the rise. The Podcast Alley directory cataloged more than 26,000 podcasts with more than 1 million episodes in Nov. 2006, according to Pew. That number has nearly doubled to some 43,000 podcasts and more than 2 million episodes today.
The most extensive podcast subject is “technology,” with more than 4,000 podcasts available, followed closely by comedy, religion and spirituality, and business.
Growing podcast popularity has been fueled by applications such as iTunes, which regularly prompts users to subscribe to automatic podcast downloads.
Colleges and universities also play a role in fostering podcast acceptance. Many now provide podcasts of various lecture series and important campus speakers. Professors are experimenting with podcasts in other ways, such as producing their own podcasts or having students respond to readings and lessons by creating podcasts rather than (or in addition to) writing traditional papers.
About the survey: The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between April 8 and May 11, 2008, among a sample of 1,553 internet users age 18 and older.