Report: Podcasting Continues Slow Growth

In the early days of podcasting, circa 2005, the channel was a digital darling. Now in 2008 it’s become a fixture on iTunes, yet just 3 percent of Internet users make it a daily part of their download routine.

A report released by Pew Internet & American Life Project on podcast usage finds 19 percent of Internet users have downloaded a podcast ever. And of those, 17 percent do so on a typical day.

In August 2006, only 1 percent of Internet users made listening to podcasts a daily habit. An estimated 12 percent had downloaded a podcast ever.

“We haven’t seen much growth on the typical day number,” said Mary Madden, senior research specialist at Pew Internet. “Part of what’s going on there, you have a lot of people testing the waters. You don’t yet have a huge audience of religious podcast consumers.”

Broadband is a driving factor behind continued adoption of podcast download and usage. “Also as the audio and video capacity of wireless gadgets increases, I think you’ll see the conditions more variable,” said Madden.

The dividing line in podcast consumption falls at the age of 50. All those under 65 were equally as likely to download podcasts as younger age groups in 2006. Now those 50 and older who have downloaded (13 percent) or download and listen to podcasts regularly (1 percent) are a much smaller contingent than those under 50.

Those under 50 are more active with podcast consumption: 23 percent say the have downloaded a podcast, and 4 percent did so the day prior to the survey, suggesting they do on a typical day. “Age differences are much more pronounced than previously,” Madden said.

Citing statistics from Podcast Alley, the study reports that technology-related programming is the most popular, followed by comedy, religion, and business.

The study doesn’t specifically address marketing uses of podcasts, although businesses have developed audio podcasts to promote executive thought leadership and other programs.

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