Study: The Podcast Market Is Growing But Still Has a One Big Problem

Infinite Dial’s annual report, widely considered the most essential one for the market, has released new data on the podcasting industry just the last week. Here’s the breakdown.

Podcasts Are Increasingly Popular

Numbers of podcast listeners continue to rise. The 2017 Infinite Dial report was released just last week. It’s an independent study that charts responses from a national telephone survey of randomly selected 2000 people and is considered one of the most trustworthy metrics by which to measure the podcast market.

Monthly podcast listeners now constitute 24 percent, or 67 million, of Americans, a number that’s up three points from last year’s 21 percent, or 57 million, monthly American listeners a year earlier. In other words, the U.S. podcast audience has grown 14 percent growth year-over-year, which is healthy, though not as impressive as some in the industry had hoped for. The metric has doubled since a 2013 low of 12 percent.

But Retention Is Low

Infinite Dial also found that 40 percent of Americans had listened to at least one podcast before. Combined with the previous statistic, that 24 percent of Americans listen to podcasts on a monthly basis, and we can deduce that another 16 percent of Americans tried it out, and then decided they didn’t like podcasts.

As podcast analyst Hod Pod covered earlier this week, Audible’s SVP of Original Content Eric Nuzum had a few thoughts on this:

“To me, the fact that 40 percent of U.S. adults have tried podcasting, yet only half of them listen regularly, that’s astounding. Show me any other medium that has that gap. None. When people sample and don’t habituate, it speaks to interest that isn’t being met by the content that’s available today.”

The root issue, Nuzum says, is either a lack of high-quality podcast content, or a lack of a way for people to discover it. The market gap between potential listeners and actual listeners represents a potential windfall for whoever can figure out how to fill it.

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Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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