It’s always listening to you, people

For people who like to get nerdy about podcast stats (hi, have we met), this week was a big week. Edison Research released “The Infinite Dial 2018”, which contains the results of their latest survey of online audio consumption. There has been some excellent and proper analysis elsewhere, but I thought I would share some (partially flippant) points of my own here.

  • Lots more people have smart speakers now than last year — 18 per cent of those surveyed compared with 7 per cent. I can see why it would be nice to be able to voice activate a podcast while cooking, say, and I think this stat is going to be very important to those making and distributing podcasts in the future. But I still find the idea of owning one deeply creepy. It’s always listening to you, people! Also, of the people surveyed who owned one, 11 per cent have both an Amazon Alexa and a Google Home. These people obviously like their spying to be done by multiple corporations, just in case one has a server outage or something.

  • There is growth in the percentage of people who have consumed some ‘online audio’ in the last month, but it’s not huge (64 per cent this year compared to 61 per cent last year, up by similar proportions in the weekly stats, among all demographics, and among people who listen in cars). I find this reassuring: I’m glad podcasts etc are reaching new people, but hopefully we can now stop talking about the “post-Serial podcast boom” because there isn’t really one. I don’t want to be part of a boom and bust industry. Slow and steady growth means I will probably still have a job in five years’ time.

  • Why isn’t there an Infinite Dial UK? There’s a US, Canada and Australia one, but British listening habits don’t seem to warrant their own research. Seems harsh.

  • Spotify ranked above Apple Podcasts in “audio brand awareness”. Maybe Apple should have hired some people to work on podcasts five years ago when they still had a total monopoly over distribution. Also: hahaha.

  • Of the people surveyed who listen to audiobooks, most are averaging three titles a year. Which means that Audible is really cleaning up on their monthly subscription package.

  • 64 per cent of people surveyed were familiar with the term “podcasting” but only 44 per cent had ever listened to a podcast. If I was being optimistic, I would say that those 20 per cent are the industry’s room to grow. If I was being pessimistic, I would say those 20 per cent are grumpy people who don’t want joy in their lives and we should just leave them alone to shout at the radio in peace.

  • 11 per cent of people listen to “11 or more” podcasts a week. How, I would like to know your secrets.

  • Shout out to the 2 per cent of people who answered “don’t know” to the question “what device do you use most often to listen to podcasts”. I find life confusing too.

Tune in next time for more light-hearted statistical analysis. This newsletter is supported by your paid subscriptions, so thank you very much for that. If you have a friend or colleague who you think might enjoy these letters too, please do recommend that they subscribe. Thank you!