The Rise of Podcasts

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Audio is vital part of youth media consumption

Music plays a big role in the media lives of young people, with 81% of Tribes claiming to listen to music everyday. This supports YouthSight’s findings that between August 2017 and August 2018, use of Spotify amongst young people increased by 8% from 68% to 74%. Visual media, such as watching TV, is also very popular amongst young people with over two-thirds of Tribes claiming to watch TV everyday.

Other audible formats such as listening to the radio or podcasts are not as frequently used but are still opted for. However, research suggests that podcasts are becoming increasingly popular amongst young people – between April 2017 and February 2019 podcast listening for the purpose of entertainment rose by 53%, and podcast listening for the purpose of learning about a specific subject rose by 125% amongst 16-24s (YouthSight 2019). It is clear that audio is an increasingly powerful medium for reaching young people, both when they’re relaxing and when they’re engaged.

According to Nielsen, 6 million UK adults listen to podcasts on a weekly basis, showing that this once niche medium is entering the mainstream.

Over a third of tribes listen to podcasts at least once a week

Although they still aren’t the top daily media choice for young people, podcasts are definitely on the rise. As found by RAJAR, from 2013-2018 there has been significant growth in weekly podcast listeners.


In 2018, Ofcom found that half of podcast listeners in the UK are under 35 and that 36% of podcast listeners use the BBC website, YouTube (26%) and iTunes (25%).

MindShare (2019) found 37% of British people now listen to podcasts, with a skew towards the younger demographic – especially male 18-34s, where numbers rise to 61%.

For young people, podcasts fill three main need states

To brighten up their commute

Of the two thirds of Tribes that do listen to podcasts, the majority tend to brighten up their boring commute by listening to a podcast. Tribes like listening to podcasts during their commute (to either work, school or uni) as it helps to wake them up. They also consider podcasts as a great alternative to watching TV which requires more of a conscious effort, and music which can become too repetitive.

Rise and shine

Some Tribes like to wake up in the morning by listening to a podcast as it helps to get them ready for the day ahead. Some Tribes find it soothing and calming to listen to a podcast first thing in the morning.

Fill the silence and pass the time

Tribes like to listen to podcasts when they are doing mundane or repetitive tasks, whether its cleaning or food shopping, as it helps curb boredom. They also enjoy listening to them when they’re winding down or just before going to bed, as they find it to be a nice distraction from their day to day lives.

I normally listen to podcasts on my journey to and from work, i.e. in the morning and late evening. If I have free time or am cleaning, I like to listen to the podcast’s episode on the day of its release, since I cannot wait to hear it! I would rather listen to the podcasts inside my house, otherwise I embarrass myself when I suddenly laugh out-loud or join in with the conversation.” – Female, 18, Alternative , Pop: Socials

Engaging the mind but not the eyes

Some Tribes prefer listening to a podcast over music or watching telly because they find it engaging. Some responded that music becomes too repetitive after a while and that a TV show requires more attention. However, with a podcast they feel like they are part of a conversation whilst also being entertained at the same time.

Sometimes I get tired of using all my senses and I love the conversation in podcasts as they are more authentic then watching something from the outside.” – Female, 23, Mainstream, VOD: Socials

“I can’t watch TB in the car obviously and the drive was an hour so I thought I should make better use of the time and educate myself with podcasts rather than just enjoying music” – Female, 20, Aspirant, VOD: Bingers

64% of Tribes listen to society & culture podcasts

Although society & culture is our Tribes favourite podcast genre, they mention 3 main features that they look for in podcasts…

Educational purposes

Tribes enjoy taking some educational value from the podcast they’re listening to. It could be learning from a historical podcast or simply life & relationships advice. For some young people, podcasts are considered to be new learning platform.

Entertaining & Alternative

Some Tribes expressed entertainment as being a key reason for enjoying podcasts, specifically on topics that are unique and niche to mainstream audiences.


If they’re choosing to listen to a podcast its unlikely it will be on a sad topic; Tribes expressed a particular emphasis on podcasts being positive and encouraging.

Nearly two thirds of tribes learn about new podcasts from social media

A number of drivers emerge when considering the reasons why Tribes decide to listen to certain podcasts.

The majority of Tribes were more inclined to watch podcasts from talent they already follow. For example, The Mile Higher podcast is presented by Kendall Rae. Kendall has a true crime YouTube channel with 1.4 million subscribers, and she often promotes her podcasts on her channel. A few Tribes made this connection when explaining how they initially found the podcast.

“Mainly recommendations or from watching YouTubers and then them starting a podcast.”//” The people that pushed me to want to do it was two youtubers who I already loved their content and felt I needed more of it. So I gave their podcast a try and completely fell in love with the podcast community and quickly realised all the different kind of podcast and people you can listen to.”

A few mentioned that they also were exposed to different podcasts (and therefore hooked) on social media i.e. Twitter and Instagram.

I was watching an Instagram story and someone mentioned them.”

“Hannah was tweeting about her new Podcast as well as advertising it so I decided to check it out.”