9 Things We Learned from Ofcom’s 2021 Podcast Survey


2. We Listen to Radio… If We Have To

The survey asked respondents where they listen to podcasts, with some potentially unsurprising answers. The below graph shows the percentage of listeners who listen to each medium based on their activities.

Though other options were also available, we have isolated what we think are the key four – podcasts, radio, music streaming and audiobooks.

Radio still has the clear advantage in cars. Over 50% of listeners tune in, compared to just over 30% for music streaming and 27% for podcasts. Alternatively, walking has the opposite effect. 40% of ramblers say they listen to podcasts, but only 16% tune in to the radio.

While doing housework or at work it’s music streaming which has a distinct advantage, but when it comes to bedtime we seem to prefer a good audiobook.

There is a clear pattern here: music and radio are more preferable during activities which require more focus, such as driving or working. Podcasts gain popularity during other tasks such as walking or relaxing at home. This suggests podcasts are a more engaging medium or, in other words, people listen to podcasts when they can actually pay attention to them.

These figures will also be a worrying read for traditional radio. In every activity except driving and school, radio is clearly trailing to streamable, on demand content.

There is another pattern: people listen to radio when there’s no choice. Cars are yet to develop decent built-in functionality for streaming music, audiobooks or podcasts, but tuning in to your favourite radio station is easy. When the technology barriers are removed, it appears people would rather stream content on demand.

We are already seeing more radio stations embrace podcasts, VoD and social media, becoming more fully-rounded content creators, and these figures show why.

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