Who’s Listening to What Podcasts?

November 10, 2021
Nielsen Top Podcast Genres by Age Group Nov2021

With more people enjoying podcasts and ad spending on the medium expected to grow this year, it’s worth investigating what listeners are tuning in to. The latest Podcasting Today report [download page] from Nielsen provides some insight into not only who is listening to podcasts, but also which genres they gravitate towards. 

As podcasts become mainstream, advertisers are seeing some positive results. Indeed, 2 in 5 listeners say they have purchased a product advertised on a podcast, with 29% saying they have used an associated promo code. Additionally, heavy podcast listeners are 34% more active in word-of-mouth promotion than the general public. 

Podcasts have also proven to be lucrative to advertisers hoping to reach wide audiences, as they have become popular among all generations. Per the report, the median age of podcast listeners is 39. That said, previous research from Nielsen found that while 25-34-year-olds are the largest group of podcast listeners, those 55 and older are getting on board. In 2018, older adults represented 16% of podcast listeners, but that share jumped to 20% this year.

Here’s a closer look at podcast audiences and what they are listening to.

What Adults Are Listening To

More than two-fifths (44%) of 25-to-54-year-olds who listen to podcasts say they listen to Comedy podcasts. Comedy is followed by News (37%), Society and Culture (31%) and True Crime (30%) among the most popular genres. Although the median age of adult podcast listeners who listen to Comedy podcasts is 36, it is the favorite genre among every age group of listeners, save those ages 55 and older. Though 3 in 10 (29% of) these older podcast listeners say they listen to Comedy podcasts, the genre comes in a distant second behind News (49%).

While Comedy is also popular with both men and women podcast listeners ages 25-54 (46% and 42%, respectively), when it comes to listeners across all age groups, men are more likely to listen to Comedy than women (56% vs. 44%). By comparison, men and women are almost equally likely to listen to Fiction (51% vs. 50%).

Overall, the favorite podcast genre among women who listen to podcasts is Kids & Family, with 8 in 10 (79%) saying they listen to this genre, compared to only 22% of men. For male podcast listeners, Technology and Sports are the most popular genres, with an equal share (82%) saying they listen to these genres.

It’s not just age and gender that factor into the genres podcasts listeners enjoy. Household income (HHI) also plays a part. For example, the median HHI of adult podcast listeners who listen to Business podcasts is $95,076, while the median HHI of Fiction podcast listeners is $67,885.

Cross-Over Genres

Fortunately for advertisers, many podcast listeners don’t stick to one genre. Case in point, even though it’s the most popular genre, Comedy listeners are some of the most likely podcast listeners to try out other genres. These listeners are also delving into Fiction (56%), Music (49%) and TV and Film (47%) shows. 

However, not every podcast listener investigates other genres. Kids & Family listeners are the least likely to try other genres, with fewer choosing to explore genres such as Religion & Spirituality (18%), Health & Fitness (15%) and History (13%).

The full report can be found here.


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