Not Your Mother's Podcasts: The Evolution of What You're Listening to And How

 Photo Credit: Canva

Photo Credit: Canva

Combining the intimacy of radio with the on-demand nature of modern media forms, podcasts are not only the last mass medium to emerge, but also one of the fastest-growing.

In 2016, podcast consumption rocketed. The variety of ways that people can access and listen to the diverse voices through podcasts has meant that more of us are tuning in at home, on our commutes, or at the gym. So who are the people that are listening to these shows?

Let’s see how the podcast landscape has changed in the last year, and where it’s going in the future.

The typical podcast listener in 2016 was a young woman

Let’s focus on women for a second. A recent survey by Acast showed that, in 2016, the typical podcast listener wasn’t the tech savvy, 30-something man you might assume. In fact, 25-34 year old women who work full time were the typical listeners. These women aren’t just looking for shows that help motivate them to work out, eat better and meditate more. They want relatable content that means something to them.

In 2016 we welcomed Work Wives, Joblogues, and The Broad Experience, to the Acast platform. These shows are hosted by real, everyday women talking about real, everyday things. From engaging (and amusing) office chats with your work wife about pubic grooming and cohabitation, to frank career advice from the girls at Joblogues, these shows are made for our core demographic.

These female podcasters share our listeners’ interests and everyday challenges, but might also be able to teach them a thing or two.

The podcast audience is becoming more diverse, and so is the way that we access podcasts

Podcast audiences are becoming more diverse, and with a more diverse audience comes new platforms for sharing audio content.

We’ve seen a significant change in the route that the 2016 audio consumer takes to discover podcasts, which will likely continue into 2017. People are moving away from iTunes and other streaming services and apps. Instead, they are finding series through their social media feeds, communities that they are part of, and through other media.

A recent example of this trend is the audience of the podcast ‘Ask A Clean Person’, whose host writes a regular column for men’s lifestyle magazine, Esquire. 50% of  ‘Ask A Clean Person’ listeners have discovered the podcast by following her Esquire column, or coming across her shareable cleaning advice elsewhere. This is different than actively searching for the podcast in an app or via a streaming service. Many of these listeners usually don’t listen to podcasts.

Listeners want a 360 experience

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons, and Gretchen Rubin’s Happier are both the podcasts of bestselling authors with dedicated fans and inspired communities.

The listeners of these two podcasts are great examples of communities looking for a multi-platform offering. They want a 360 experience that allows them to properly commit to and engage in the things that they love. Listeners of these shows can communicate with the hosts on social media while also reading their book and discussing their work with friends via a dedicated fan forum.

This works on the flip side, too. Podcasters create brands and successful careers as their shows gain momentum. The hosts of My Dad Wrote a Porno recently launched a book and embarked on a tour where they carried out live shows.

The stresses of being exposed to extreme amounts of content on a daily basis might explain the urge to fully commit to the things that we truly love. And with the average podcast listener being in full-time employment, fully committing can be a treat.

Live podcasts are becoming the new music gigs

As mentioned above, an increased amount of podcast hosts in 2016 have decided to take a step away from the studio microphone and instead enter live venues with their listeners following along.

Podcasts such as The Heart, Call Your Girlfriend, and My Dad Wrote a Porno are just some examples of podcasters that have managed to convince listeners to take their headphones out and join them for a live podcast performance or recording rather than going to see a live music gig.

Having proved so popular in the year of 2016, we predict that even more of us will be going to see our favorite podcasters perform live in 2017. This could become just as common as going to see a comedian or a musician live.

Regardless of how the landscape evolves, the commitment of the listeners proves that podcasts are here to stay, and I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring.

Caitlin Thompson, US Director of Content at podcasting platform, Acast (