One third of Aussies listen to podcasts: Canberra University study

Podcast listening is steadily growing in Australia, with one-third (32 per cent) of Australians saying they listened to podcasts in 2020, according to a new report from the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra.

The study, Podcast Trends and Issues in Australia and Beyond: Global Perspectives draws on information collected in the Digital News Report: Australia 2020 (DNR) and includes insight from various global contributors. It is the first of the DNR Special Report Series and found that globally, 41 per cent of news consumers listened to podcasts in 2020.

The report has found that podcast listeners are young, affluent, highly educated and city-dwellers, with over half of Gen Z (57 per cent) and Gen Y (51 per cent) saying they listen to podcasts, while only 31 per cent of Gen X and 13 per cent of Baby Boomers listen.

YouTube is rising as a major platform for podcasts, with almost half of Australian podcast listeners (42 per cent) using YouTube to access podcasts, ahead of Spotify (33 per cent), Apple Podcasts (21 per cent) and ABC Listen on 16 per cent (see related report).

Lead author of this report Dr Yoonmo Sang said: “News podcast listeners are avid news consumers and have distinctive characteristics. They are drawn to news podcasts largely due to news podcasts’ ability to cover diverse subjects and perspectives. It is also noteworthy that news podcast listeners are likely to seek podcasts that align with their viewpoint.

“People often believe that technology infrastructure including the state of the Internet and mobile penetration is directly related to the popularity of podcasts in the country, however, interestingly, news consumers in less-connected countries are more likely to be news podcast listeners.”

Lead author of the Digital News Report: Australia, Dr Sora Park, says while there have been a few industry reports and studies on the rise of podcasting, none of them examined podcasting in a global context or investigated the role of podcasts in news.

“Next year’s DNR will feature podcasting in more depth than in previous years,” said Dr Park. “The DNR team will also continue to collaborate with our international partners to further investigate this growing trend.”

Other findings include:

  • In 2020, 11 per cent of Australian news consumers listened to news podcasts.
  • Specialist podcasts were the most popular among Australian news consumers (15 per cent), followed by lifestyle (12 per cent), news (11 per cent), contemporary life (11 per cent), and sport (7 per cent).


  • In Australia, 37 per cent of male news consumers listened to podcasts, while 28 per cent of female news consumers listened to podcasts. And 14 per cent of male news consumers listened to news podcasts, while 9 per cent of female news consumers listened to news podcasts.
  • The top reason given by Australians for listening to podcasts is because podcasts cover diverse subjects and perspectives compared to other forms of media (60 per cent).
  • News consumers who prefer news that share their point of view are more likely to listen to news podcasts (26 per cent) compared to those who prefer impartial news (16 per cent) and news that challenges their point of view (22 per cent). 
  • In Australia, younger news consumers (under the age of 35) are more likely to pay for podcasts (43 per cent) than those 35 and older (33 per cent).
  • Australian news podcast listeners have a tendency to have a left-leaning political orientation with almost half (48 per cent) identifying themselves as left-wing.

Across the world, podcast listening shows differing trends. In the 40 countries surveyed, podcast listening is the most popular in Turkey (86%), followed by Kenya (70%). In a number of countries more than half of consumers are listening to podcasts; Mexico (61%), Brazil (60%), Bulgaria (59%), the Philippines (57%), Hong Kong (55%), and South Korea (54%). However, in some countries it has not taken off. In particular, only 22% of UK news consumers listen to podcasts.

In Australia, podcast listening has increased from 27% in 2019 to 32% in 2020 but is still at the lower end in the global market. The global average is 41%.

REASONS TO LISTEN: The top reason for Australian podcast listeners to use podcasts is to get a diverse range of perspectives (60%), contrasted with US consumers who think podcasts give them “a deeper understanding of specific issues than they get from other forms of media,” according to the report.

PAYING FOR PODCASTS:  In Australia, younger news consumers (under the age of 35) are more likely to pay for podcasts (43%) than those 35 and older (33%). Globally, Australian and South Korean news consumers are the most willing to pay, with 39% saying they would pay for podcasts, whereas news consumers in the UK (21%) were the least likely to be willing.

WHO IS LISTENING: In Australia, men are more likely to listen than women; 37% of male news consumers listened to podcasts, while 28% of female news consumers listened. Younger people, highly educated news consumers, affluent news users, and city dwellers are more likely to listen to podcasts. Over half of Gen Z (57%) and Gen Y (51%) listen to podcasts while 31% of Gen X and 13% of baby boomers listen to podcasts and only 10% of people 74 years and older. Podcasts are particularly appealing to younger people, and there is a clear relationship between socio-economic status such as educational attainment and income and podcast listening.  Overall, highly educated, high-income news consumers and city dwellers are more likely to listen to news podcasts.

The report analyses data from a long-running international survey coordinated by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. The Reuters Institute Digital News Report delivers comparative data on media usage in 40 countries and across 6 continents. The News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra is the Australian partner institute and publishes the annual Digital News Report: Australia. The survey was conducted through an online questionnaire
in late January and early February 2020, with the final sample (N=80,155) being reflective of the population that has access to the internet.

The full report is available here.




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