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‘Stitcher Podcasting Report’ reveals a decade of growth and diverse listener habits

May 28, 2020 By Kari Wethington

Reviewing 10 years of never-before-released listener data, the inaugural report examines binge habits, regional trends, top genres and more, including COVID-19-era data

NEW YORK – Stitcher, the leading company dedicated to listening to, producing and monetizing podcasts, today released the “Stitcher Podcasting Report,” a first-of-its-kind look at the evolution and growth of podcasting over the past 10 years, including what Stitcher’s COVID-19 listener data could mean for the industry’s future growth.

The “Stitcher Podcasting Report” represents the industry’s only analysis of in-app data, network content and listener demographics from Stitcher – the top network for share of podcast listening in the U.S., as measured by Edison Research’s Podcast Consumer Tracker. The report examines the factors that have driven the industry’s growth and the trends shaping it today: 

  • The growth of podcasts is not slowing down: The number of podcasts published to Stitcher has grown more than 129,000% since 2010.
  • Some states carry more listening weight: The state of Washington, for example, ranks No. 4 in listening hours, despite being No. 13 in highest population.
  • Streaming remains popular: Two-thirds of podcasts are streamed rather than downloaded.
  • The rise of the mini-series: Mini-series podcasts grew from four in 2010 to more than 52,000 in 10 years. From “Serial” in 2014 to top shows including “The Dream” and “Chernobyl,” listeners are tuning in to learn about history, legends and behind-the-curtain truths.
  • Episodes are trending shorter: The average podcast episode length has shortened by 2.4 minutes since 2013.
  • Gen X is dedicated: Though the 18-34 age group makes up the largest chunk of listeners, the 35-55 age group is more dedicated based on listening hours and the number of shows they’ve added to their favorites.
  • Bouncing back amid COVID-19: While listening decreased during weekday commuting hours, the second half of April began to show a return to pre-pandemic levels of listening patterns.

“Like Stitcher, podcast listening has been growing strong for over a decade now, and we wanted to take a moment and reflect on the diversity of tastes and consumption habits that have driven that growth,” said Stitcher CEO Erik Diehn. “The data we found reinforce our belief that the unique, intimate appeal of podcasting makes its fans the most loyal and passionate of any medium.”

As the industry continues to adapt to changes in consumer behavior during the coronavirus pandemic, the report includes an analysis of COVID-19-related listening patterns.

“The podcast industry has shown its resiliency and ability to be nimble as hosts made a swift transition from recording studios to home, keeping a steady cadence of new episodes,” said Diehn. “And even as day-to-day life has been transformed, people continue to turn to trusted and beloved shows and hosts to be informed and uplifted.”

The report also includes data from the Stitcher app and Stitcher’s PodSurvey, the industry’s largest ongoing survey of podcast listeners, unveiling the top shows and genres, listener demographics, regional distinctions and more. 

Other key findings include: 

Content: Today, top shows such as “This American Life” and “The Daily” continue to attract listeners and advertisers from the coasts to middle America. As the industry has evolved, more content has emerged for listeners of all ages, backgrounds and interests.

  • Unlimited options: Nearly 7 million episodes were published to Stitcher in 2019 alone.
  • Crime is king: True crime podcasts lead in total listening and binge-listening hours in 2019, followed by comedy podcasts and then news and politics.
  • Oldies but goodies grow: When ranked by number of listeners, 17 shows that were in the top 100 in 2010 were still in the top 100 in 2019.

Listening Behavior: Listening hours are on the rise as users integrate podcasts into weekday routines. The biggest spike in listening hours started in 2017 as bigger publishers and celebrities from other media jumped on board. Nearly 60% of listening hours are driven by 10% of dedicated “power listeners.”

  • Weekday engagement: Peak listening periods are Monday to Thursday during commuting hours.
  • Loyal veterans and browsing newbies: New listeners are more likely to “graze” different shows, while long-time listeners have established show and genre preferences.
  • Binging isn’t just for TV: In the last two years, the number of hours binged has more than tripled, and the number of binging listeners has doubled.

The Stitcher Listener: The amount of listening time and type of content varies by state, but there is not a leading region. Stitcher listener data points to how listening habits and genre preferences differ by state.

  • States with the most listening hours:
    1. California: 15+ million listening hours
    2. Texas: 7+ million listening hours
    3. New York: 7+ million listening hours
    4. Washington: 5+ million listening hours
    5. Illinois: 4+ million listening hours
  • Hometown history – Shows that dive into local crimes are popular in these states:
    • Rhode Island: “Crimetown”
    • New Hampshire: “Bear Brook”
    • Kentucky: “Bardstown”
    • Mississippi: “Culpable”

The full report including all the industry and listener behavior data is now available here.

About Stitcher
Stitcher is the best place to listen to, produce and monetize podcasts. The Stitcher app, available for iOS and Android devices, is one of the world’s most popular podcast listening platforms, with a growing network of original content and a premium subscription service. Stitcher is the parent company of Midroll Media, the leading podcast advertising network representing over 200 of the world’s largest podcasts, and networks including top-ranked comedy podcast network Earwolf, Stitcher Originals and Witness Docs. With offices in Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco, Stitcher was founded in 2007 and is a wholly owned subsidiary of The E.W. Scripps Company.

Media contact:
Kari Wethington, The E.W. Scripps Company, 513-977-3763, Kari.wethington@scripps.com
Julianne Rogers, Allison+Partners for Stitcher, 646-428-0635, Julianne@allisonpr.com