More people listening to podcasts during commute, Nielsen says

Report also highlights increase in average listening time

More listeners are tuning into podcasts while travelling, according to a new report by audience insights and analytics platform Nielsen.

The Nielsen Podcasting Today report, created in partnership with market research platform Edison, analyses how the podcasting landscape in the US continues to evolve and how listener behaviours have changed compared to previous research. This includes Edison Research’s Infinite Dial report, the Nielsen Scarborough Podcast Buying Power report, and the Nielsen Podcast Brand Impact norms database. 

Although listening at home remains more popular overall, the number of podcast consumers tuning in to podcasts during transit increased in May 2023 versus last year, going up by 4% year on year amongst listeners aged 18+. For listeners aged 18-49, listening to podcasts during transit is now more popular than listening at home, with 43% of respondents in that bracket reporting that they listen while travelling, versus 38% who listen at home. 

Prior to the pandemic, listening at home was significantly more popular, with 64% of those surveyed preferring it compared to the 44% that listened while travelling, according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019. This report also highlighted that listening while on the move was more popular amongst younger groups, with 54% of listeners under the age of 35 listening on public or private transport compared to 38% of listeners aged 35 and above. 

The Nielsen data also showed that podcast advertising was effective in driving key metrics, including an average of 70% in aided recall. It also provided key boosts to brand lift metrics, including driving brand awareness, which increased by 12 points, as well as driving listeners to seek information (+8), purchase a product (+6), and recommend a brand (+6). 

The growth in transit listening presents a key opportunity for podcast advertisers as the study showed that automotive ads are particularly effective in raising brand awareness, with unaided recall among more than 50% of listeners, according to the Nielsen Podcast Brand Impact norms database Q1 2023. For advertisers looking to reach family groups, Nielsen’s data shows that the school run and weekends are when parents and teenagers are most likely to be listening to podcasts together.

Other highlights from the Nielsen report show that the number of podcast listeners in the US has almost doubled in the past five years, and 42% of them are monthly listeners. Listeners are also highly engaged with more than 40% tuning into podcasts for at least one to four hours per week and 31% listening to podcasts for at least five hours. 

With more listeners tuning into podcasts on the move, it is important for podcasters to continue making their content easily accessible, as according to Voices’ recent Power of Podcasts report, fans still prefer audio over video. Additionally, Sounds Profitable and Signal Hill Insights’ recent Podcast Landscape report indicated that most podcast consumers stop listening to shows because of time constraints with work and vacation, making listening during commutes a key consumption window. 

“I just don't think people think about the listener and listeners’ experience enough and the way people listen to podcasts,” Luke Moore, COO of independent podcast company Stak, told PodPod in a previous episode of the podcast. “Audio works and has always worked because it's quite a passive medium.