What does the podcast market look like among American consumers? How do listeners feel about podcasts, what needs do they fulfill, and what makes podcasts unique from other forms of media?

To answer these questions, we surveyed over 2,000 people aged 13 to 49 in the US. Here are some key highlights from our learnings:

In usage, podcasts are catching up to other long-established media platforms. Today, 41% of Americans aged 13 to 49 say they have listened to a podcast in the last 3 months. While Americans 13 to 49 are still less likely to listen to podcasts than to stream music or movies or to watch traditional TV, podcasts are undeniably gaining momentum. Among podcast listeners, nearly 9 in 10 report that they’re consuming podcasts at least as much if not more than they were three months ago.

In fact, podcasts are actually harmonious with TV, and instead are taking time away from radio and reading. Listeners reported that since they started consuming podcasts, they’re viewing more TV, but claim that podcasts are eating into the time they typically spent with radio and books.

So what’s causing this momentum in podcast listening? Americans recognize the flexibility of listening and the variety of content that podcasts uniquely provide.

The ease of listening anywhere, anytime, and on any device is appealing to listeners. Podcast users appreciate being able to listen anywhere, at their own pace, and while doing other activities. They’re fitting podcasts into their busy schedules, consuming them while doing chores, exercising, and commuting. While the majority listen on smartphones, podcast listeners also like being able to access podcasts on laptops, tablets, and even connected devices and smart speakers, depending on their location, mood, and preference.

Listeners turn to podcast content for two main reasons – to stay informed, and as an escape from the daily stresses of life. Half listen to podcasts to learn something new, 40% to better understand a topic, and 36% to stay current. Close to two-thirds listen to be entertained, while over 2 in 5 listen to relax or unwind. The wide variety of podcasts and genres available means there’s something for everyone, regardless of what the listener is in the mood for. In fact, two-thirds believe that podcasts fill an entertainment void for them, and 3 in 5 feel that podcasts offer information that can’t be found anywhere else.

Podcast listening is also “solo but social.”  Since it’s possible to consume podcasts at any time, podcast listening is primarily a solitary experience. However, the online buzz and overall popularity of the medium encourages people to talk about their favorite podcasts with others, giving it a social angle. Only 18% of podcast users typically listen with family or friends – yet 45% talk about podcasts with them! And nearly 1 in 4 have tried a podcast because they wanted to be able to discuss it with other people.

Taken together, these benefits are why most listeners (73%) agree that podcasts are the new age of radio.