Skip links
Podcast listening

Just one in five of podcast users listen to programs from news organisations

Podcasts are popular, especially in the US. But after years of steady, double-digit percentage growth, listenership in general in many markets is starting to slow, according to market research firm Insider Intelligence. A new survey by the Pew Research Centre shows the US remains a strong market for podcasts with about half of Americans having listened to a podcast in the past year and one-in-five of those listeners say they listen to a podcast nearly every day. But just one in five listens to podcasts from news organisations. 

Listeners in key markets like the US and UK will increase but growth was no more than 5% and 4.7% in 2022, respectively, according to Insider Intelligence.

A Statista Global Consumer Survey showed Sweden, Ireland and Brazil  report more than 40% listening to podcasts

The new Pew survey says US listeners turn to podcasts for entertainment, learning, and simply to have something to listen to while doing something else. 

Read Also:  Podcast listening slowing down but double digit ad growth

Comedy, entertainment, and politics are at the top of the list of topics that podcast listeners say they regularly listen to. 

Most podcast listeners in the Pew survey say they hear news discussed on podcasts – however, just one-in-five listeners say they listen to a podcast that’s connected to a news organization.

“Following a steady increase in podcast listening over the past decade, podcasts have become a big part of the normal routine – and news diet – of many Americans, especially younger adults”, the Pew survey says.

Fewer Americans turn to podcasts in search of news, though most listeners still say that news is at least a part of their experience with podcasts. Among US podcast listeners – those who have listened to a podcast in the past 12 months – 29% say that staying up to date about current events is a major reason they listen to podcasts. 

Two-thirds of podcast listeners say they have heard news discussed on the podcasts they listen to – amounting to a third of all U.S. adults. And among those who hear news on podcasts, the vast majority say they expect the news they hear there to be mostly accurate.

Podcast listening in the US  has increased steadily since 2013. In 2014, the popular true-crime podcast Serial was released, becoming the fastest podcast to reach 5 million downloads on iTunes.

Read Also:  Are podcasts overestimated as platform for news?

Years later, this was followed by investments into podcasts by platforms like Spotify, which paid at least $200 million for an exclusive deal with The Joe Rogan Experience in 2020. The Rogan podcast became controversial during the peak of the covid  vaccination because of statements that were seen as supporting anti vaxxers. 

“Even as podcast audiences continue to grow, some podcast hosts have been accused of spreading unsubstantiated false claims, and others have drawn backlash for offensive content”, the Pew report says.

Listeners turn to podcasts to hear about a wide range of specific topics. Nearly half of podcast listeners say they regularly listen to podcasts about comedy (47%) and entertainment, pop culture, and the arts (46%), while about four-in-ten (41%) turn to podcasts about politics and government. Other common topics include science and technology, history, and true crime (such as Serial, which helped popularize podcasts after its first season in 2014).

“Many listeners also engage with podcasts in ways other than listening, such as watching a movie or reading a book because of a podcast, following a podcast or its hosts on social media, or purchasing a product that was advertised. About a third of listeners (36%) even say they’ve tried out a lifestyle change – such as a workout routine or journaling – because of a podcast they listened to.”

87% of those who hear news on podcasts expect it to be accurate. “This is a much higher level of trust than people have in some other sources of news and information.” 

A Pew survey of news on social media in 2020 showed 39% of social media news consumers expect the news they see there to be largely accurate, while a majority (59%) said they expect the news there to be largely inaccurate.

Read Also:  Podcast business suffers when fewer commute

Many podcast listeners  say that the news they get there includes information they wouldn’t have heard about elsewhere. Nearly three-quarters of Americans who get news on podcasts (73%) say this happens at least sometimes, including three-in-ten who say they often hear unique news on podcasts.

Younger adults are more likely than older age groups to listen to podcasts – and by a wide margin. Two-thirds of Americans ages 18 to 29 have listened to a podcast in the past 12 months, compared with just under a third (28%) of those 65 and older.

The reasons that Americans turn to podcasts also differ by age. Most podcast listeners ages 18 to 29 say that entertainment (75%) or having something to listen to while doing something else (70%) are major reasons they listen to podcasts. A far smaller share of listeners 65 and older cite entertainment (30%) as a major reason they listen to podcasts, and even fewer (22%) listen to podcasts in the background while doing other things.

Meanwhile, the most common major reason podcast listeners 65 and older cite for listening to podcasts is learning (61%).

A recent report from Insider Intelligence showed that podcast advertising is still growing at double-digit rates, and companies like Spotify have called the medium a $20 billion opportunity. 

Read Also:  Content for users below 40 crucial for news media's future revenues

Highlights from the Insider Intelligence report:

  • Penetration is highest in North America. 
  • Listeners will grow in the double digits this year in China, Argentina, France, and Germany. China and Argentina are expected to keep up double-digit growth throughout the next two years.

“Podcast advertising has struggled to keep up with the format’s mainstream success. While the wide variety of topics in podcasting makes delivering relevant ads easier, uneven ad frequencies and fraud issues leave question marks, as do issues with young listeners”, Insider Intelligence said.

The Reuters Institute said growth in podcasts slowed down during the pandemic indicating it suffered when people had to stay at home and not were commuting. 

”Our data show Spotify continuing to gain ground over Apple and Google podcasts in a number of countries and YouTube also benefiting from the popularity of video-based and hybrid podcasts”, the Institute said.


Moonshot News is an independent European news website for all IT, Media and Advertising professionals, powered by women and with a focus on driving the narrative for diversity, inclusion and gender equality in the industry.

Our mission is to provide top and unbiased information for all professionals and to make sure that women get their fair share of voice in the news and in the spotlight!

We produce original content, news articles, a curated calendar of industry events and a database of women IT, Media and Advertising associations.

    Do you want an experienced opinion on a job issue?
    Moonshot Manager is here to answer!

      Moonshot community sharing thoughts and ideas, in a anonymous, safe environment.