The Infinite Dial 2018

A snapshot of American Podcast Consumption

Podcast consumption continues to increase in the world’s largest market for podcast listenership. Edison Research and Triton Digital have released The 2018 Infinite Dial Study, with continued awareness and growth in this engaging medium.

BE Media Production has summarised the 66-page report.

2000 people were interviewed in early 2018 to provide a snapshot of Americans’ listening habits.


For the first time ever, the percentage of Americans consuming social media has decreased, while the consumption of podcasting continues apace.

64% of the population is familiar with the term ‘podcasting’. (Makes me wonder what planet the other 36% is on.)

That’s an increase from 49% in 2015; 55% in 2016; 60% in 2017.

44% have ever listened to a podcast – an increase from 40% last year; 36% in 2015; and 30% in 2014. Or, in other words, an almost 50% increase of podcast listenership in 4 years.

26% of Americans listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. The increase since last year is attributable to women listeners, an increase from 21% to 24% in 12 months. Men’s listening has remained steady at 27%.

Weekly podcast listening is at 17%, up from 15% in 2017, 13% in 2016, 10% in 2015; and 8% in 2014. The number of weekly podcast listeners is estimated to have more than doubled since 2014.

Those who listen to podcasts on a weekly basis, average 7 podcasts each week.



Podcasts are consumed on a smartphone, tablet or other portable device 69% of the time. 29% of podcasts are consumed from computers. (The other category is ‘Don’t Know’ at 2 per cent.)

It doesn’t mention the percentage listened using a smart speaker, despite the team’s observations that:

“Smart Speaker adoption is growing at a faster rate tan the early days of smartphones.”



  •  18% of Americans own a smart speaker – up from 7% in 2017
  • 83% of whom own an Amazon Alexa vs 28% of whom own Google Home. (11% of smart speaker owners have both)
  • 33% own more than one



The places in which podcast listening is done most often, are:

  • 49% at home
  • 22% in a car or truck (increased from 18% the previous year)
  • 11% at work
  • 4% riding public transport
  • 4% working out
  • 3% walking around



80% of podcasts episodes are typically listened to either in their entirety or ‘most of the podcast’

Only 19% of listeners ever increase the speed of their podcasts to listen to them faster.



It’s interesting to look at the comparatively archaic device of the “wireless”, something which will go the way of the Cathode ray tube television.

  • 29% of households have no radio device
  • 50% of 18-34yos have no radio. (That was 6% in 2008)
  • In 2008, that number was less 4%.



While only 15% of cars have them, newer models are coming off the production line with in-dash information and entertainment systems. This will undoubtedly help increase the consumption of on-demand audio.

The Infinite Dial survey, shows that 49% listen to audio on the car’s CD player (down from 52% in 2017; and 56% in 2016). Consumption of CDs is more than double (23%) podcast consumption (up from 19% in 2017).



Audiobook consumption has plateaued. The percentage of Americans who have ever listened to an audiobook is 44%. 43% in 2015; 43% in 2016; and 45% in 2017.

As we’ve mentioned before, compared to podcasts, audiobooks are pretty bland. Listening to someone read a book will never match the engagement of hearing a conversation or a well-crafted drama made for the purpose of audio.

As podcasts become better produced (which they most certainly are), fewer people will care for audiobooks. It will be interesting to see if the consumption of audiobooks will slowly yet steadily drop in the coming decade.