Search Menu

A look at Podcast trends and usage

Podcasts rising in prominence

This month we’re taking a look at podcasts and their usage trends, listener demographics, genres and listening locations.  In focus, are markets in Europe and the U.S.
These’s a summary at the end of the article ;-).

Usage trend – Podcast popularity reaching new heights:

In July 2020, Martin Armstrong, Data Journalist with Statista commented on data by an AudienceProject survey “Podcasts Rising in Prominence”.  The largest share of listeners was recorded in the U.S., followed by Scandinavian countries, UK and Germany.  As can be seen from the chart below, across all seven countries the share of people listening to podcasts on a weekly basis has increased over the previous year.

Podcasts rising in prominence
Podcasts Rising in Prominence


There is a connection between radio and podcast consumption:  “The Statista Global Consumer Survey indicates that people in the Scandinavian countries listen to podcasts even more than people in the U.S., followed by the UK and Ireland.  The countries with a higher percentage of podcast listeners are also the ones where the daily radio listenership is higher than the European average (47 percent in 2019), showing a connection between the two audio consumption patterns…”.

Interestingly, this survey shows a different country lineup with a higher share of respondents than the AudienceProject numbers.

Podcast listeners coming from radio?

(Source: “Radio and digital audio in Europe”, Statista:

User Demographics – Taking a look at the podcast markets, in particular, by age group


The chart below shows the share of people who listen to a podcast in the U.S. on a monthly basis.  The report was published in March 2020.  It shows clearly that listeners in the age group of ’55 plus’ saw a slight increase each year with the exception of 2020.  2020 saw an 8% jump from the preceding year. 

Share of people listening to podcasts

Source:  Triton Digital in Statista – Report:  Podcasting in the U.S.

It should be noted that “in the 2020 publication the source changed its reporting to reflect data on consumers age 12 to 34 years and 35 to 54 years, rather than the previous breakdowns of 12 to 24 year olds and 25-54 year olds”). 


In Germany, a survey taken in Q1 2020 asked the question “Do you listen to podcasts on a weekly basis?”  The age group with the highest number of listeners is also the youngest.

Germany: Listening to Podcasts on a weekly basis?

Source: Statista Research Department, 13 May 2020.  In cooperation with AudienceProject.

United Kingdom

This is different in the UK, where the age group 26-35 is the group with the highest number of listeners.

UK: Listening to Podcasts on a weekly basis?

Source: Statista Research / AudienceProject “Podcasts in the UK”,

Preferred Genres

This report “Podcasting in the U.S ”includes a survey taken between 8 – 11 October 2020 and shows that the leading podcast genres were ‘Comedy’ at 22%, closely followed by ‘News’ at 21%.  The date of this survey coincides with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and, perhaps, reflects why ‘Comedy’ and ‘News’ were the most listened to genres at that time.

Leading podcast genres in the US / Oct 2020

Source:  Morning Consult in Statista – Report:  Podcasting in the U.S.

Researches of 4DC (UK) and CSA Research (France) show that leading podcast genres in France and the UK are Entertainment (standing for Music/TV, Comedy) Sports and News are the most wanted genres.

Leading podcast genres in France and UK

Source: 4DC / CSA in Statista Dossier –

The chart below shows the results of a survey on the use of podcasts and radio broadcasts according to content type in Germany in 2020.  Between end April to mid June 2020, in the age group 14 years and older, when asked “Which of the following online audio contents do you listen to?” ‘music in general’ remained at the top of the list although the percentage of listeners fluctuated each year over a four year time span.

Which contents do you listen to?

Source: Evgeniya Koptyug, Research Expert, Statista.  Published 29 September 2020

Listening to podcast by location – Where are the listeners when engaged?

Earlier in 2020, research undertaken by RAJAR showed the main location to listen to podcasts was reported as ‘at home’ by respondents.  This was followed by ‘public transport/walking’ and ‘car/van/lorry’ (means: when travelling).

UK: Where do you listen to podcasts?

Source: RAJAR; ID 591238, ‘Podcasting the UK –

The following RAJAR/Ipsos survey reports for the UK that people are mostly listening to podcasts while ‘driving/travelling’, followed by ‘relaxing/nothing in particular’, ‘working/studying’ and ‘household chores’.  The survey was taken in February 2020.

UK: Activity when listening to podcasts!

Source:  RAJAR; Ipsos; ID 412227, Published by the Statista –

In summary

Podcast listening growth:  Across the US and parts of Europe, the number of people who listen to podcasts on a regular basis has grown from 2019.  In the U.S. and especially the northern parts of Europe, 2020 has seen a significant rise in each of the countries measured.  Depending on the country, between 15% and 35% of the population listen to podcasts on a weekly basis.

Demographics:  Age groups 15 to 35 account for half of podcast listening and the 36 to 45 age group for another third of listeners.  It’s not only the younger population anymore, that’s relevant for podcasting.

Loved Genres:  In the US, in early October 2020, the number one genre listed was ‘Comedy’ very closely followed by ‘News’.   In other countries, ‘Entertainment’, ‘Sports’ and ‘News’ are the preferred genres. It’s clear that ‘News’, ‘Entertainment’ and ‘Sports’ are of main interest overall.

Due to the timing of this survey in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the new difficulties and challenges that people now face as a consequence, we think it’s likely that the demand for ‘News’ is rising.  Probably closely followed by ‘Entertainment’ and ‘Comedy’ as audiences having listened to the ‘News’ need to be uplifted by laughter 😉

Podcasts listened where/when?

Listening to podcasts while “commuting/travelling” and “at home/work/place of study” are the main places and use cases when listening to podcasts. The high percentage of podcasts “at home” 48%, is surprising. 

These numbers were taken in February, prior to COVID-19.  With the decrease of travel and increased home office work, the portion of podcasts listened to at “home/place of study/ (home)work” is likely to increase.

Final Thoughts

We see some differences in podcast consumption from region to region.  However, the locations observed have in common that: 

  • Podcast listening increases and is most frequently used by the population sub 45.
  • News, Entertainment (standing for comedy, music, culture/art) and Sports are the genres wanted by most of the listeners.
  • Podcasts are listened to at home/study/work to the same extent as they are consumed while travelling.  This is the biggest surprise. The device industry still assumes that the main use of podcasts is ‘on the go’. 
    No wonder that the user experience in finding, accessing, subscribing to podcasts on many devices has room for improvement. 
    airable delivers the podcast catalogue and is available to help and improve the user experience.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this. Further information and our legal terms please see here.