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Edison’s Infinite Dial Gives a Mixed Report on Podcast Growth

Podcast use is down in the last year, but still up from 2020 – raising questions about growth

By Paul Marszalek

For the past 24 years, Edison Research has been tracking the media consumption habits of Americans.

Focusing on audio, the annual Infinite Dial has proven invaluable to radio and content creation companies. The 2022 report, released today at the Podcast Movement conference in Los Angeles, put the red-hot podcast industry on center stage.

But is podcasting indeed red-hot? The data was enough to give some pause.

Monthly podcast listening dropped from 41% of the U.S. population in the 2021 report to 38% in 2022. Weekly podcast listening dropped from 28% to 26%. The numbers are the first setbacks ever for the medium, in terms of user growth.

The most likely culprit is a slow return to normal after the COVID pandemic. Data shows that usage dropped in the 12-34 demos, possibly as students and young adults returned to  school and work. COVID created something of a spike as listeners with a lot of time on their hands experimented with podcasts.

The good news is that despite the drop, the 2022 numbers are still above the 2020 numbers. An estimated 109 million people listen to a podcast on at least a monthly basis, and 74 million on a weekly basis. Further, weekly users of podcasts are heavy users — consuming an average of eight podcasts per week.

While the consumer base is far from insignificant, the growth curve feels underwhelming. The supply side is buzzing, but the demand side doesn’t seem to match producers’ enthusiasm.

Selected Slides:

Podcast usage accelerated starting in 2019, but the medium failed to hold on to some newcomers.
Weekly podcast usage dropped from ’21 to’22, but is still above 2020 numbers.
Monthly podcast listening grew among 35-54s, but not enough to overcome losses in other demos.

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