Podcast Downloading Up Over 70% in Last Six Months

Posted on

Pew Internet & American Life Project has released a data memo that reports that “some 12% of internet users say they have downloaded a podcast so they can listen to it or view it at a later time. This finding compares to the 7% of internet users who reported podcast downloading in our February-April 2006 survey.”

The net result is an increase of 70% in just six months. The really positive thing is that strong growth occurred across all segments of gender, age, income, education and internet experience. Men still outnumber women with 15% of men downloading compared to 8% for women, but both genders reported great increases in downloading activity.

The report also goes on to to describe that “few internet users are downloading podcasts with great frequency; in both surveys, just 1% report downloading a podcast on a typical day.”

This part of the report seems somewhat flawed to me. The exact question asked of over 900 people was “Please tell me if you ever do any of the following when you go online. Do you ever download a podcast so you can listen to it or view it at a later time? Did you happen to do this yesterday, or not?”

I think I would have answered yes and no to the question, because I didn’t do any downloading yesterday, but I’m pretty sure iTunes sucked some podcasts down if any of podcasts I subscribe to issued new episodes.

The problem with this kind of flawed research is that it leaves a lasting impression as people just blast out a sound bite like A scant 1% download podcasts on a typical day.

It would be nice if people who claim research expertise did a better job.(update: I mean Pew, not MicroPersuasion)


3 thoughts on “Podcast Downloading Up Over 70% in Last Six Months

  1. Sure,
    But if you asked people did you go and watch a youtube video
    today then more than 1% will say yes.
    The other question is that yes itunes may have sucked down
    a new episode of a podcast, but how many episodes that
    are downloaded are subsequently actually listened to.
    I think many podcasters think “oh yeah I have this many subscribers” but you know, how many of your bookmarks do you check on a regular basis. Like all internet use I think podcast listeners will subscribe to many and then hone it down to a few favourite regular lsitens. This doesn’t mean they’ll unsubscribe to those they ignore, thus inflating the believed listener figures of the podcasters.

    To be honest, although the podcast is a really great medium for radio fans,
    I don’t believe it’ll have nearly as large impact as the “fun” one stop social networks that include the massively expanding youtube.
    The fact that youtube is a place where people are now replying by video to a video that is posing a question and asking for replies shows the powerful and compelling quality of “everyone is a producer and a reader/viewer”. Podcasting as a medium is more like the interesting loner who lives in a shack in the woods who you go to to hear words of wisdom. He aint at the party where you all let your hair down.

  2. I think of YouTube as an entertainment site with a lot of consumer value. It’s also a free consumer’s content delivery network. Great stuff, but I think it goes after a different time segment for entertaining consumers than podcasting.

    For me, a better question Pew could have asked is how many podcasts did I listen to yesterday( to which I would have answered 3) When they were downloaded is not important for podcasting because the listening and the downloading are uncoupled, unlike YouTube where the two are connected.

    YouTube competes for my time online versus other activities onliine. Podcasting competes for my time offline versus other offline activites like listening to radio.

  3. You are right Alex, people will say “no” to downloading a podcast in such a survey.
    However my point is that podcasters themselves will bump up their figures by counting subscribers and downloads that may never be listened to.
    The survey is underestimating, the podcasters are overestimating.

    With youtube you can pretty much count the viewings of a video
    accurately.

    Of course they are a different medium. But I can see that there will be an increase in “subscribers” to you tube channels rather than random surfing/viral and these will soon be able to be downloaded to a mobile unit for later consumption.

    Of course for me the old-fashioned charm of a podcast is that it can be very offline and doesn’t involve staring at a screen. Just like old-fashioned radio has always been a healthy alternative to getting glued to the TV.