What listening behaviors, show preferences and listener profiles looked like during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has — and forever will — change the way we live our lives. From how and where we work to who and what we listen to on the podcast front. But one thing is for certain. Podcasting is here to stay. More people are listening, more shows are being launched, and we’re seeing a rise in listening hours, too. These trends are reflected in the likes of Edison Research’s Infinite Dial Report, and we’re seeing it in Stitcher app data as well.
Here’s what we’ve noticed over the last 18+ months:
- Moving beyond the coasts: New listeners are younger, more diverse, and spread out across the entire nation
- Celebrities turned to podcasting for connection when film production shut down: 22 of the top 200 podcasts in 2020 were hosted by celebrities, most notably Rob Lowe, Jason Bateman, and Zac Braff
- Cultural moments influence listener interest: From the Black Lives Matter movement to the Presidential race, 2020 was a year of major cultural events and the top search terms on Stitcher reflected listener interest to seek out information on trending topics in podcast form
- Times have certainly changed: Pre-pandemic, top listening hours aligned with peak commuting times, which have been replaced by a shift to lunchtime/early afternoon (11 a.m. — 2 p.m.). Similarly, household chores and gardening have replaced commuting as the primary activity that listeners do while listening to podcasts.
- Generational favorites: Based on user “favorite” activity, younger generations gravitated to comedy and talk content (age 13–34), while news and politics did better with older generations (age 35+)
This year we also asked Stitcher listeners about why they started, and continue to listen to, podcasts. While the overall results mirror what we typically see in other reports, there were some notable differences among gender and age groups.
- Gen Z and Boomers have more in common than you might think: Both are twice as likely as the 25–44 year old cohort to have started listening because a celebrity or public figure they follow hosts a show. They also cite wanting to learn more about a topic more frequently than the rest of the population.
- Gender differences in what prompts someone to begin listening: Men, Women and Non-Conforming folks all cite friends and family as the primary reason they started listening to podcasts, though it’s the heaviest outlier for women at 55.3%. Men and those who are gender non-conforming have more of a spread across other reasons such as seeing a show on social media (20.5 and 24.4% respectively) and following a publication or media outlet that has a podcast (18.3 and 16.1% respectively).
To find the Top 25 podcasts of the year, the topics most searched for, gender differences in listening and more, dive into the report below!