Podcasts Come to Cars: What Radio Needs to Know


Earlier this year NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study 19 turned up the finding that among weekly podcast listeners, the most common thing to be doing while listening to podcasts is … driving. More than any other podcast statistic in the data, this one stands out. Podcasts are making their way into the car – of course they would. Podcasts are like talk radio, but you always get to listen from the beginning of the show.

Podcasting is becoming a big business with a low barrier for entry. Across the total sample in Ratings Prospects Study 19, 46% are using podcasts on a weekly basis. That number peaks at 54% weekly usage among the Millennials (now ages 26-41) and remains a much lower 34% among the Gen Xers (ages 42-54 in the sample).

Comparatively, Digital Streaming Providers (DSP’s) like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and Amazon Music lead weekly usage at 74% of our sample. AM/FM Radio shows weekly usage among 64% of the Millennials and Gen Xers (and significantly higher among those likely to show up in Nielsen samples, as shown in our recent webinar).

With a tip of the hat to Lays Potato Chips, few weekly podcast listeners stop at just one podcast – over 80% listen to at least two different podcasts each week – and better than 40% listen to four or more different podcasts.

Podcasts should be a natural line extension for radio stations. The trouble is getting the word out about new podcasts. As of the end of 2021, there were nearly 2.4 million podcasts and almost 60 million podcast episodes hosted by Apple podcasts. The average podcast gets 27 listeners per episode.

But radio stations have a tremendous advantage over the typical podcast publisher – access to huge audiences via their OTA signals. This showed up as an answer when we asked respondents how they learn about new podcasts: 45% of Millennial podcast listeners cited NPR. The number one answer is friends – but social media turns out to be nearly as potent. This is especially true among Millennials, where nearly 60% have discovered new podcasts via social media.

Social media advertising can be like injecting steroids into the organic podcast discovery process since, unlike friend recommendations, paid messages can be delivered with tremendous frequency. Just shy 2/3 of the weekly podcast audience can be reached every day with boosted or organic posts on Facebook or Instagram – and around 3/4 can be reached daily on Google or YouTube.

Viewed in context of a wider range of advertising media, two things stand out pertaining to the podcast audience: (1) they’re much more likely to pay attention to advertising messages than the sample overall and (2) digital media consistently outrank traditional media (including radio) for connecting with them.

So, of course radio should use its own airways to promote its podcasts – and paid digital retargeting advertising can be an efficient and effective strategy to turbocharge podcast discovery. After all, if some folks are going to listen to podcasts while in the car … wouldn’t it be better if they’re listening to your podcasts? Maybe those podcasts are extensions/tangents from your morning show or other talent? Maybe they’re serving special interests unique to your market?

You’ll find more data from our study concerning podcast listeners and podcast listening that you can watch right now at NuVoodoo.com/webinars. You can connect with our team with an email to TellMeMore@NuVoodoo.com.