9 Things We Learned from Ofcom’s 2021 Podcast Survey


3. Apple is Not the Dominant Force It Once Was

Though Apple remains synonymous with podcasts due to it being the only prominent platform in the early days of the industry, Apple Podcasts is no longer the leading podcast player.

In fact, in the UK, Apple is significantly behind both Spotify and BBC Sounds based on those surveyed.

There are also patterns when breaking this down by demographics. For example, we see from the first graph above that older listeners clearly gravitate more to BBC Sounds, for which there are several factors:

  1. Audience retention – they’re watching something on TV, possibly via the BBC iPlayer app, and they follow a recommendation to listen to something on Sounds which they discover and enjoy.
  2. Familiarity – the BBC’s existing audience will be used to the website and any associated technology, making it easier to use BBC Sounds and discover content
  3. Brand recognition – the BBC is associated with quality. It’s a reliable media watermark, and British audiences, especially older ones, will be more inclined to try something new on BBC Sounds over something independent.

We do also see a stark reduction in the number of 16-34 year olds using BBC Sounds, who clearly are more inclined to search Spotify. With BBC Sounds being an exclusive platform (i.e. a BBC service for BBC commissioned content), we can say it’s potentially more challenging to build an older listener base for your own podcast.

Apple Podcasts is still used by about 30% of those surveyed across all age groups, but within just its first year Amazon Prime is already chasing them, with 20% of 35-54 year olds confirming they use Prime for podcasts.

Another interesting demographic is ethnic background, where 36% of Asian listeners use Amazon – far exceeding any other demographic. However, Chinese and Mixed race listeners are more likely to use Spotify and non-white listeners are far more likely to use Spotify than white listeners. Black listeners still seem to favour Apple podcasts.

Understanding where your target audience enjoy getting their podcasts is absolutely key to understanding how to market your show, but you should also be mindful that this survey purely samples podcast listeners from the UK. For example, Indian listeners in the UK will likely use one of the above four platforms, but listeners in India will probably use Gaana or JioSaavn.

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