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Hear This: New Data about Podcast Listeners

6 min read

Podcast Data

With the breakout popularity of shows like Serial and StartUp at the end of 2014, many Americans have been re-introduced to podcasts as a convenient way to consume audio content. Historically seen as a geeky and tech-laden concept, Edison Research now reports that 17% of Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month and 10% have listened to a podcast in the last week.

In a recent report, Edison characterized the podcast audience as a group of consumers who are affluent and well-educated, skew younger, follow brands closely, and actively use social media. Anticipating that listenership will continue to grow, the space is drawing interest from advertisers keen to explore emerging markets and untapped opportunities.

Always eager to understand how people publish and consume different types of media, at Known we conducted some of our own research on the podcasting market to learn more about the people who regularly listen to podcasts and audio content.

Who listens to podcasts and audiobooks?

While we can’t claim to have the most scientific or representative sample of podcast listeners, we were able to grab some interesting insights through our own survey of audio consumers. During the week of March 23rd, 2015 we solicited responses to a questionnaire about audio consumption. The survey was part of an interview screener we distributed for audio consumers.

Our survey sample

During the week, we gathered responses from 247 individuals. Our sample of respondents ranged in age from 17 to 67, with a mean age of 35. Of those, the mix was almost split between men (44.5%) and women (55.5%). 

Edison cites a higher level of education as a characteristic of podcast listeners, something that makes them an attractive audience to many marketers. In our questionnaire, respondents were asked to select the highest level of education achieved. Their choices included: didn’t complete high school, high school diploma or GED, some college, Associate degree, Bachelor’s degree, and Graduate degree. 

The largest percentage reported having a Bachelor’s degree (38.5%), with just under 25% reporting “some college” as the next most popular option.

Listening to and discovering podcasts

We were very curious to know which devices people used. It’s easy to assume that podcast listeners are primarily Apple owners; the name podcasting is heavily tied to iTunes, and the iPod originally introduced many people to the medium. However, it’s been ten years since Apple added the podcast directory to iTunes, and in that time the world of audio devices has expanded. 

When asked which mobile devices audio consumers currently use, the Android phone was the most common choice (23.7%), followed closely by the Apple iPhone (20.4%). Participants could select more than one device in their response.

Mobile devices used
Mobile devices used

When selecting the mobile device that they regularly use, the majority of respondents listed more than one. Those listing just one mobile device amounted to 40%, while 29% listed two devices, and 22% listed three.

Thirty-four percent of respondents reported that they listen to podcasts one to three times a week. Among the heavier listeners, 21% said they listen 4–6 times a week, and 17% said 7 or more times a week. Following this survey, we interviewed some of these more frequent podcast consumers to better understand their habits and experiences. 

How often do you listen to podcasts?
How often do you listen to podcasts?

Curious about how people learn about shows, we also asked participants how they typically discover podcasts. Results varied, but social channels were dominant, with 155 respondents listing that they discover podcasts through social media, and 134 listing that they find podcasts through a friend’s recommendation. Participants could select more than one choice here.

How do you discover podcasts?
How do you typically discover podcasts?

We also asked where participants had gone to download or stream podcasts. Again, respondents could select more than one source. In a world seemingly dominated by iTunes, listeners most commonly downloaded or streamed podcasts from the show’s own website. iTunes and the iOS Podcasts app were also top sources.

Where have you gone to download or stream podcasts
Where have you gone to download or stream podcasts?

Listening to audiobooks

In addition to podcasts, we wanted to learn more about audiobooks and their listeners. We asked survey participants how many audiobooks they’ve listened to in the last year. Of the participants surveyed, 29.6% reported listening to two or three audiobooks in the last year.

How many audiobooks have you listened to in the past year?
How many audio books have you listened to in the past year?

We also asked participants where they got audiobooks to listen to. Here again, respondents could select more than one answer. Of the choices, 185 selected Amazon/Kindle as their source of audiobook content. iTunes was next with 90 responses, followed by the library/Overdrive and YouTube.

Where do you get audiobooks?
Where do you get audiobooks?

Education level and listening frequency

With the information that we collected on education and listening frequency for podcasts and audiobooks, it’s easy to wonder if there’s a relationship between education and how often people consume audio content. Maybe audiobook aficionados and public radio enthusiasts are educated philomaths. Does how often someone listens to podcasts each week depend on how much education they achieved?

With the data we collected on education level and listening frequency, I wanted to check for a relationship. I dusted off the part of my brain that used to know statistics and ran a chi-square goodness of fit test for the data we had on education level and how often respondents listen to podcasts each week. Based on the data collected, there isn’t a relationship between education level and podcast listening frequency.

(For the math nerds out there, χ²= 13.822, with 16 degrees of freedom. For the education categories, I rolled respondents who selected “high school degree or GED” and “didn’t complete high school” into one category, as only two respondents chose the later answer.)

We could also ask the same thing for audiobooks. Is there a relationship between education level and audiobook listening? Again, I grabbed our education data and info on how often people had listened to an audiobook in the last year. Like the podcast results, there was no relationship in our data between education and audiobook listening. (For this chi-square test, χ²=10.609, again 16 degrees of freedom.)

Getting personal with podcast listeners

This survey was small, but it gave us some interesting details around devices, discovery, and listening frequency. We are especially curious to learn more about those people who report listening to podcasts more often, at least four times a week. To get deeper insights from these heavy listeners, we followed up our survey with a series of personal interviews.

Our next post will focus on some of the common trends articulated by the podcast listeners that we spoke with. To round off this series of posts, our third article will touch on details gathered from people who create podcasts.

If you like podcasts and audio content as much as we do, check out some of our favorite episodes — compiled in playlists — over at Wavelist.

On the Benefits of Teaching Students to Blog

3 min read

Blogging Student

If you don’t listen to EdChat Radio, it’s a regular podcast discussing recent discussions on Twitter. The June 9th covered the question, "As an educator what do blogs or blogging have to offer me or my students?"

A recent episode of EdChat Radio picked up the blogging topic and shared some thoughts on teaching students to blog.

From co-host Tom Whitby:

“To be honest with you, adults really no longer have the ability to give permission to kids to blog. Kids can blog anytime they want on their own computers. The computer today has become the publisher, and kids can publish at will. So I think that being the case, we kind of have a moral obligation to teach them how to blog responsibly and in the best possible manner.”

He continued, “In my experience, starting kids actually even in kindergarten -- with class blogs -- guiding them through how, not only to write a blog, but how to read and respond to a blog, are skills that are needed…With the older kids, it’s a little bit easier. It actually gives them an audience for their work. It’s not like doing a composition and it goes to the teacher, and the teacher is the only one who sees the composition. As they blog, they blog for an audience, and they realize they have an audience, and they have a responsibility to that audience. So the way they write, and their approach to writing, completely changes.”

Guest Barbara Gruener picked up the topic of reflection, reading, and commenting on blogs. She said:

“We can teach kids to be bucket-fillers all day long, but it takes it another step when they actually have a chance to use that gift of encouragement and affirmation in reflecting on something somebody has read. And even if it’s being a critical friend, and saying, “Oh gosh, you know, I might see this a little bit differently.” We don’t grow unless somebody stretches us and helps us move into another direction, so I love when a critical reader throws something my way and stretches me some.”

The group, along with co-host Nancy Blair, commented on how teaching blogging in the classroom helps students learn to comment constructively and responsibly. They also shared thoughts on the multifaceted uses of blogs: as communication tools, as resources, as catalogs, as archives, for reflections, and for building connections to people globally.

You can listen to the episode, “5 Valuable Skills Students (and Teachers) Learn from Blogging on BAM!Radio here.

Spending the morning with our friends at @KQED!

Using Known for collaborative publishing with groups

1 min read

Using Known for collaborative publishing

Are you looking for a great tool for collaborative publishing? Lots of people use Known as a personal website or a space to share ideas, but Known can also easily be used as a powerful platform for groups to blog and share ideas.

In this video, Ben takes you through some of the neat features that make Known a great tool for groups. To create your own group site, go to and click "Create your site" to get started. You'll be able to add new collaborators in no time.

Getting Started with Known - Creating a Personal Site

1 min read

Getting started with Known

Known is a simple and easy-to-use social publishing platform with an emphasis on short messages and updates. Known is free, lightweight, and a fun platform to create a web presence on. Many people use their Known site as a personal lifestream or a simple blog for their ideas and links.

In this video, we'll cover how to set up your first Known site and start publishing. To follow along with the video, go to and click the "Create your site" button to get started!

Love hearing the stories from our Bay Area friends about youth and connected learning. #dml2015 #dmlrealtalk

Watching stories from KQED, Cal Academy, and BAVC.

Thanks for the lovely postcard @kirilind! Good luck with OuiFest.

Self-hosted Known has left the building

1 min read

We just released Known, which you can download from our website. Here are some of the fixes and changes:

  • Better tag support, including for short tags
  • Fixed an issue with hashtags containing numbers
  • Native MongoDB notifications
  • Improved integration
  • Fixed issue with login forwarding on walled garden sites

You can download the Known 0.7.8 package from our open source page.

If you prefer, you can get a free Known site on our fully-managed service.

Self-hosted Known 0.7.8 has left the building

1 min read

We just released Known 0.7.8, which you can download from our website. Here are some of the fixes and changes:

  • Hashtags now handle unicode character sets
  • Bookmarks syndicate to Twitter
  • PubSubHubbub is now handled better across feeds
  • Linked tweets now auto-embed in status updates
  • Site URL in public comments is now optional
  • Installation now detects rewrite rule support more reliably
  • Sessions do not persist between http and https
  • Better mobile Twitter URL support
  • Internal web client is more configurable
  • Object annotations are included in JSON
  • Includes Vagrant and Ansible configuration files for easier installation

You can download the Known 0.7.8 package from our open source page.

If you prefer, you can get a free Known site on our fully-managed service.

Introducing Convoy!

3 min read

We’re very excited to introduce a new service specifically for self-hosted Known users - Convoy!

Syndicating to different social networks is a key part of the Known experience for many people, but if you’re running Known on your own host, it can be a pain to set up and manage the various developer accounts and APIs associated with each social network and connected service. Convoy removes that process entirely.

Seamless connections

If you’re running your own Known site, you can still create developer accounts and manage API integrations with the various social services that you want connected to your site. However, if that isn’t your cup of tea, a Convoy subscription gets you one-click access and authentication with all of the social connections offered at You still own your data, and we manage all of the technical details.

Convoy features

Convoy currently offers connections to Facebook profiles, Facebook pages, Twitter, Flickr, Foursquare, SoundCloud, LinkedIn profiles, and LinkedIn company pages. We’ll be adding connections to Google+ pages, Wordpress blogs, and Tumblr sites soon. Convoy uses the existing Known servers to access these services, so you never have to create and manage a developer account with any social network.

As Convoy grows, we plan to expand the features to include search and notification capabilities for your site. Many shared hosts can’t handle robust features like intelligent site search and real-time notifications. There’s no reason your site should be limited by the technical offerings of your hosting company, and with Convoy it doesn’t have to fall short. Look for new features like these over the upcoming months.

Getting started

Social connections

If you have an existing self-hosted website, you’ll need to update your site to the latest Known package, and then enable “Convoy for Known” under Plugins. Then under Settings you’ll see an option for “Connect Services.”

If you are creating a new Known site on Reclaim or another third-party host, Convoy will already be enabled under Plugins. Under Settings you’ll see an option for “Connect Services.”

From the Connect Services page in your site, choose the “get started” button to learn more about Convoy and subscribe to the service. You can subscribe to Convoy for $5 a month or $50 a year. (If you’d like to purchase multiple subscriptions for your school or organization, contact us about bulk discounts.)

Authenticate with social accounts

Connected services

After you’ve subscribed to Convoy, the Connect Services page of your site will display a list of social networks with options to connect an account. Choose any network, click “Connect account,” and then complete the authentication process for that social network. You can connect unlimited accounts for any social network, but note that for some sites, you might need to sign into each account before you can connect it to your Known site.

That’s it! You can add or remove accounts through the Connect Services page of your site at any time. We keep the connections up-to-date so that you never have to worry about managing APIs and developer settings for that social network again.

Ready to get started with Convoy? Subscribe today.