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19 cool podcast facts every author needs to know

I love listening to podcasts.

But I’m an “outlier” in my 55 and older age group.

Only 20% of us in this age category in the U.S. listen to podcasts. (The rest don’t know what they’re missing, including some great true crime stories like Sweet Bobby, the one I listened to on a road trip last weekend.)

Do your readers listen to podcasts?

What matters the most to you as an author, though, is whether your book’s target audience listens to them.

How do you know if they do? That starts with basic research into your category or genre’s demographics. (Learn how to do that with my “Who Will Buy Your Book?” video.)

Then you match your reader demographics with those of people who listen to podcasts.

Who listens to podcasts?

Fortunately, now that podcasts have grown in popularity, it’s not hard to find information about who does and doesn’t listen to them. The challenge is digging through the facts that aren’t relevant to you to find what is.

I’ve done that for you here.

Here are key statistics from Edison Research’s “The Infinite Dial 2022,” the longest-running survey of digital media consumer behavior in the U.S.:

  • 79% of Americans — 226 million people — are familiar with podcasting.
  • 38% of the U.S. population listened to a podcast in the past month.
  • 53% of monthly listeners are male, 46% are female, 1% are nonbinary/other.
  • Almost half — 47% — of monthly listeners are between the ages of 12 and 34.
  • One-third — 33% — of monthly listeners are between the ages of 35 and 54.
  • One-fifth — 20% — are 55 and older.
  • 68% use Facebook, 64% use Instagram, 45% use TikTok; of those, Facebook is used most often by monthly listeners.
  • Most monthly listeners are white at 68%, followed by African-American, 14%; Hispanic, 10%; Asian, 3%; other, 5%.
  • Most — 21% — listened to four or five podcasts in the past week.
  • At 59%, most listen to podcasts at home, with only 20% listening in their cars.

And here are global podcast facts from other sources:

  • Globally, listenership reached a new high in 2020 with 485 million listeners worldwide. (Statista)
  • Norway leads with the highest percentage of frequent listeners, followed by the U.S. and UK. (Statista)
  • 27% of Canadian listeners tune in to three episodes a week. (Statista)
  • Podcast listenership is growing the most in Chile at 85% followed by Argentina, 55.28%; Peru, 49.1%; Mexico, 47.84%. (MusicOomph)
  • In the UK, 12% of the population listens to podcasts weekly. (MusicOomph)

Most popular podcast categories

What are the most popular podcast categories? Edison Research says these are the top 10 during the second quarter of 2022:

  1. Comedy
  2. News
  3. Society and Culture
  4. True Crime
  5. Sports
  6. Business
  7. Arts
  8. TV and Film
  9. Education
  10. Religion and Spirituality

Why should you care?

More and more people are listening to podcasts. According to Acumen Research and Consulting, the podcast market is expected to grow 31% yearly between 2022 and 2030.

Insider Intelligence reports that by the end of 2025, more than 144 million people in the U.S. will be listening to podcasts. And, this year, adult listeners will increase the time they spend listening to podcasts daily by 16% to just over 23 minutes.

That means that it’s increasingly likely that being interviewed on podcasts or hosting one yourself can help you build that essential author platform that ensures there’s an audience waiting to buy your book.

It's increasingly likely that being interviewed on podcasts or hosting one yourself can help you build that essential author platform that ensures there's an audience waiting to buy your book.Click to tweet

There are other options, too. Could you turn your book into a podcast the way Kate Hanley did with her nonfiction book, How to Be a Better Person?

If your book’s content lends itself to a podcast format, consider pitching a podcast series to one of the many organizations creating them, as well.

Use podcast facts as a guide

As you think about what role podcasts might play in your book marketing, keep in mind that statistics never tell the whole story.

For example, while those 55 and older make up the smallest percentage of podcast listeners, there are many retirement wealth and lifestyle podcasts. That tells me that there are podcasts specifically for people in that age range.

Whether or where podcasts fit into your book marketing goals depends on your interests and skills, too. Podcast interviews and hosting aren’t for everyone, even if your readers love them. And that’s okay. But if they are, these podcast facts might just nudge you closer to taking action.

Let’s do a little authors and podcasts research of our own! In the comments: Do you listen to podcasts? Please add your gender and age. Yes/no, age, gender.

(Editor’s note: This article was first published in July 2016. It has been updated and expanded.)

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  1. No. Female, 63. I’m more visually oriented and prefer to read content. However, my 33 yr old son is heavily involved in the podcasting world.

  2. I listen religiously, but I walk religiously so that is the perfect time to listen. I am 62 and a woman. I also listen in my car because my radio has an interface with my smartphone and I can just listen while I drive. I think there a lot of us our there that listen when we walk. I also like to listen to audio books when I walk as well.

    1. Chris, you’re my twin sister from a different mother! I also listen when I walk (religiously) and when I drive (especially the 4 hrs RT every other Sunday to visit me mum). I listen to audio books when I walk, too. I get them from the library and LOVE the Playaways — do you use them?


      1. Late to this convo, but I do audio books during daily walks also. Did you know you can subscribe to Audible for $7.99/mo? (Maybe 8.99.) You have to call and ask about this particular deal, but it’s available to anyone. You don’t get their entire playlist, but SO many books you still don’t know where to begin. And they appear on your device the minute you order. And you can keep them as long as you want.

        As for podcasts, I rarely listen, as I’ve got my audio books, plus I do a lot of dictation while walking or driving. (Female, and 55 sounds young to me.)

          1. Wendy, you are my new best friend who I’ve never met in person. Thank you so much for taking the time to say something nice!


        1. I didn’t know that, Wendy. Thanks for the tip! I got an email today from Panera giving me 2 free mos. of Audible, so I’m going to look into that, too. Audiobooks changed my life! : )


    1. Thanks, JoAnne. I could never sit and listen, either. I listen when I’m exercising, driving, etc. Works great!


  3. Yes. I just began listening to podcasts. My 17-year-old daughter downloaded some for a long car trip we took together recently and we really enjoyed listening to them. Because I’m in the car a lot, I’m sure I’ll be listening to more. I have also just discovered a podcast that is helping me with researching my second book, “Ben Franklin’s World,” hosted by historian Liz Covart (available from Google Play Store).

    1. Thanks, Christy. Could you provide you age or at least your age range, too? That would help so much!

      That’s great news about finding one that will help with your research!


  4. no, 55, female (but i have done podcast interviews, figuring, like you, if i reach even a few people, and it helps me focus on a particular point). i’m trying to cut down on social media, it’s overwhelming me.

    1. Thanks, Denise. I know what you mean about social media overwhelm, too. Pick just 1 or 2 that work for you and forget about the rest.


  5. Over 55′ female. Never listen to podcasts BUT may scan transcript. I could listen b/c I listen to audiobook religioulsy when exercising, driving, etc. However, podcasts don’t do enough to get my mind off traffic or my reps and miles- LOL.

    1. Thanks, Cat! My only problem with podcasts when I’m driving is that I want to take notes, but can’t!


  6. Totally yes! I’m female, 46.

    Would love to know everyone’s favorite podcasts. I like
    Fresh Air
    Serial (of course)
    How to be Amazing
    So Money
    Like a Mother
    Biz Chix
    I was into Dear Sugar for a while, may try that one again.

    But I could definitely use some more recommendations.

    I listed to podcasts on walks. And if I’m doing something menial on the computer, like recording my expenses or something like that. I haven’t gotten in to audiobooks just yet–I do love to read before bed.

  7. Yes! Love them – especially in True Crime genre – Wrongful Conviction Podcast. (40 y/o f) Not a big audiobook fan though; prefer to read.

  8. 70, female
    I have only listened to podcasts related to my writing, such as episodes before I’m a guest, or podcasts from people I’m researching. When my current book is done, I’ll branch out.

    My daughter, 28, listens to a lot, but mostly arts, social justice, and true crime.

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