Rajar Midas: podcasts double weekly reach in six years

Rajar Midas: podcasts double weekly reach in six years

Podcasts have more than doubled weekly reach in the UK since 2017, according to the Rajar’s measurement of internet-delivered audio services (Midas).

According to Midas, which covers total non-commercial and commercial audio combined, podcasts’ average weekly reach steadily rose from 10.3% to 22.1% between 2017 and 2023, meaning they now reach on average slightly more than one in five people in the UK.

Meanwhile, reach for on-demand music services like Spotify and Apple Music has decreased slightly from 35% to 32% since 2021, after marked increases between 2017 and 2021.

Similar findings were found when examining hours spent (in millions), with podcasts going from an average 33 million in the 2017 Midas Autumn 2017 report, to 90 million in the Midas Autumn 2023 report.

On-demand music services dropped hours spent between Midas Winter 2021 and Midas Autumn 2023 from 208 million to 198 million, after consistent rises since 2017.

The report also revealed an audio overview, wave-on-wave trends, and insights into connected audio, live radio, listen again, and time of day.

The audio overview showed live radio still dominated internet delivered audio listening with 88% weekly reach, followed by on-demand music services made up 32%, and podcasts/downloads taking 22%.

Demographic differences

Weekly reach and share of audio type differed by age group. On-demand music services reached a higher proportion of adults aged 15- 34 than other age groups with 52% weekly reach. Slightly more of this group listened to podcasts/downloads as well with it recording 28% weekly reach.

On average, 15-34s listened to 14 hours of on-demand music services per week, compared to the ‘all adults’ average of just under 11 hours.

Six in every 10 adults aged 15+ in the survey claimed to use an on-demand music service with no ads.

More than half of on-demand music listening comes from mobiles (51%), nearly a quarter smart speakers (24%), laptops (19%), tablets (3%) and desktop computers (2%).

For podcasts, the share of mobile listening was higher with 76%, followed by laptops at 11%, tablets at 6%, smart speakers at 4% and other devices with 2%.

Of those surveyed, 80% said they listened to 1- 3 podcasts a week and the most popular genres were found to be Comedy, and then News and Politics, Sports, and True Crime.

Listening to podcasts was more of a solo activity with 94% listening alone, compared to 34% saying they listen to on-demand music services with others.

Differences by age demographic were also shown in share of internet delivered audio.

Overall, live radio took 70%, followed by on-demand music services with 13% and podcasts/downloads with 6%.

Live radio’s share was much higher for those aged 35- 54 and 55+ with 75% and 82% respectively, while 15-34s recorded 46% share for live radio.

Connected audio, defined as audio types listened via connected devices like podcasts, catch-up radio, on-demand music services and live radio (excluding AM/FM/DAB radio sets and other non-internet connected devices), had weekly reach of 61.4% and an average 16 hours per listener amongst all adults 15+.

This was up from 2017 when connected audio recorded 41.8% weekly reach and 10.6 average hours per listener, but reach was slightly down from 2021 which registered 62.7% although there were 13.5 average hours per listener.

Live radio companion

Most live-radio listening was by DAB Digital Radio (40%), followed by analogue AM/FM radio (27%), voice activated speaker (14%), desktop/laptop computer (6%), TV (4%), mobile phone (4%), other devices (4%) and the remaining on tablets.

Live radio was a companion mostly during driving or travelling (56% weekly reach), but also relaxing/doing nothing in particular (31%), household chores (30%), eating/drinking/cooking (29%, working/studying (23%) scored highly.

More than half (61%) was done alone, but 19% share with partner/spouse and 9% with colleagues at work.

Rajar Midas: live radio still dominates

Catch-up listening

Catch-up or listen again radio was found to be most popular amongst those aged 55+, making up 52% of its listening.

Mobiles make up 58% of catch-up listening, followed by laptops and tablets with 18% respectively, smart speakers with 4% and 1% on other devices.

All adults listened to an average 4.7 hours catch-up radio and more than half of catch-up radio listening (54%) recorded in this wave was music-based, and 46% speech-based.

More than three-quarters (77%) of catch-up listening is at home, and 86% listen on their own.

Time of day

Live radio listening peaks between 8am and 8.30am, and there is a significant spike in podcast listening between 5pm and 6.30pm.

On-demand music listening is the next-most listened to audio type throughout most of the day.

The data was drawn from a sample of 2,410 former Rajar respondent adults aged 15+ who completed a seven-day Midas diary over two weeks in September.

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