Bridge Ratings Industry Update - The Podcasting Outlook

 

For Immediate Release

Updated Friday September 29, 2006

Survey Update: Podcasting Growth Forecast Revised

Based on interviews with radio listeners in ten national markets*, Bridge Ratings released today its updated analysis of podcast use. Phone interviews were conducted with members of the Bridge Ratings Podcast Panel to measure their use of podcasts over time. This is an on-going study of podcast users and not the general population.

The following chart displays projections for the podcast universe from 2004 through 2010. The red line represents our former projections last published in August of 2005. Based on interviews during 2006 with podcast listeners' current listening habits and their opinions on future use of the medium, the revised estimates appear as the blue and maroon bars in the chart below.

Podcast listening had been trending down since earlier this year and during the summer of '06 listening was signficantly off compared to the summer of 2005. Listening rebounded in August among most demographics.

The biggest change to the podcast audience composition over the last year is the ever-increasing addition of those individuals who consider themselves the "early majority". Initial podcast consumer studies by Bridge Ratings showed a composition of nearly 95% "innovators" and "early adopters", those consumers who consider themselves highly oriented to leading change or who like to try out new ideas but in a careful way.

Over the last year, though the composition of the podcast audience remains heavily skewed to these groups, their listening levels have decreased. Meanwhile, more "early and late majority" consumers have slowly tried and enjoyed podcasts. However, these slower-to-adopt-to new technology consumers prefer different types of podcasts than their innovator podcast brethren. The early and late majority podcast listener prefers more professional podcast production such as those programs produced and distributed by professional broadcast organizations like NPR and the major television and radio networks.

As the podcasting consumer audience grows it becomes more broad representing a wider consumer base and, therefore, a wider preference for content. Credit terrestrial radio for this infusion of new podcast consumers. Over the last year, many traditional broadcasters have adopted podcast technology as a way to enhance their listeners' experience and for the radio stations to extend their reach. Bridge Ratings is finding that NPR, for example, has been able to significantly improve its already excellent "loyalty" scores among those who already listen. In general, this approach to embracing new technologies is helping terrestrial radio among adults - specifically 30+ years of age.

So, while podcast innovators have reduced their listening, podcast users closer to the mainstream have been increasing their use. Trends still are down because the significant majority of podcast users remain this innovator/early adopter group which has - overall - reduced their consumption of podcasts over the past twelve months.

The following table shows the percentage of our podcast panel that responded to the question "Have you listened to a podcast in the last thirty days?"

 

Aug-06
Jul-06
Jun-06
May-06
Apr-06
Mar-06
Jan-06
Jul-05
Yes
51
43
45
49
52
54
57
61
No
49
57
55
51
48
46
43
39
12-24 yes
59
51
55
60
53
55
63
57
25-34 yes
45
40
43
49
45
42
49
57
35-49 yes
26
28
30
25
54
55
59
41
50-64 yes
8
6
5
8
16
20
18
15

Bridge Ratings continues to monitor podcast use over time. One way users are tracked is through the use of panels or groups of users who are interviewed over time in order to record consistent use patterns among identical samples.

Changes in the podcast audience has a direct impact on the tastes of the podcast universe. As the chart below shows, over time the "innovators" or "early adopters" of this technology were overwhelmingly the primary users. The highly focused nature of this type of user generated significant interest in mostly home-grown or amateur podcast productions. In fact, this group preferred the "wild west" nature of the podcast terrain.

However, as terrestrial radio, among others, embrace podcasting over the last year, a large group of late-arriving users or the "early majority" and "late majority" of mainstream America, joined the party. This influx of mainstream users attracted by the professional production of terrestrial radio has broadened the taste of the podcast life group.

Recent slips in podcast use can be attributed to the first wave of users losing some interest. Many have reported more disatisfaction in the quality of podcasting over the past 12 months. In August, however, a strong influx of late-comers has changed the landscape; their podcast passion is still high and their use remains high and a reverse trend has occurred.

n

On average less than 17% of our panelists listen to their podcast downloads on an MP3 player or other digital device. This metric is down from 20% in July of 2005.

See the data as presented at this year's Portable Media Expo, Ontario, California

*Sample = 4,400 listeners 12-64.

Sample error = +/- 1.5%

*Markets including in this study: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago, Boston, Washington, DC, Miami, Dallas, Atlanta.

Bridge Ratings is a ratings and research company based in Glendale, California. We are dedicated to providing on-going, immediate, reliable, useable and affordable audience measurement services for the radio industry. Our methodolgy is based on sound consumer research principles. We are in the business of tracking listeners - not listening. Because we are a true research company we offer flexibility

 


Back to Press Releases