Citizen Media Watch

december 3rd, 2006

US: Podcast listening up, but still marginal

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

A survey by Pew Internet & American Life Project (The report states: ”The Pew Internet Project is a non-partisan, non-profit research center that examines the social impact of the internet. It is part of the Pew Research Center and is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.”) states that podcast usage in the States is up from 7 percent in January/February this year to 12 percent today. But those numbers are based on the percentage that has downloaded a podcast at any point, ever. In both surveys, just 1 percent download a podcast on any one typical day. Note the low response rate though: 28 percent.
More results:

Men are more likely than women to report podcast downloading; 15% of online men say they have downloaded a podcast, compared with just 8% of online women. And those who have used the internet for six or more years are twice as likely as those who have been online three years or less to have downloaded a podcast (13% vs. 6%).

While podcasting audience is growing, it is still marginal. Mark Glaser at MediaShift has made an intersting observation when it comes to how the survey’s been covered by traditional media and blogs, listing some of the headlines about it. It’s quite a big difference between ”34 million ears perked for podcasts” (eMarketer) and ”Podcasting falls on deaf ears” (PC Authority).
Yes, how indeed do you interpret the result? The main problem, Glaser writes, is that the survey is too shallow.

OK, millions of people are downloading podcasts, but do they eventually listen to or watch them? How often? And do they listen to podcasts online with streaming audio instead of downloading them? And do they listen to the whole thing or just bits and pieces? It seems like every piece of data we get about podcast usage spawns more questions.

More research in this field is indeed needed. I’d like to see some numbers for Sweden too. My guess is that the numbers are even lower in Sweden, but that’s just a guess.

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