Industry Trends

Millennials and the Podcasting Revolution

Denali Sagner
4 min

Key takeaways:

  • Podcasting has exploded in popularity as a way for Americans to consume news and entertainment.
  • Millennials, the “digital natives,” have helped expand the popularity of podcasting.
  • Millennials care about convenience, diversity and inclusion, and authenticity, contributing to their affinity for podcasts.
  • Harnessing the power of podcasting can help you connect with millennials, an important new cohort in the workforce.

Ask anyone with a smartphone if they’ve ever listened to a podcast, and the answer will likely be yes. From “Serial,” the investigative true-crime story that gripped the nation, to “This American Life,” a collection of unique narratives, to “How I Built This,” a look at how entrepreneurs built your favorite brands, Americans love the podcasting industry in all its forms. There are more than 1 million active podcasts today, on topics from business to culture to comedy to news. This rise in podcasting popularity is due in large part to the first “digital natives”: millennials.

Who are millennials?

Millennials are 77 million Americans and 22 percent of the U.S. population. They were born between 1980 and 2000. They use social media more and get married less. After living through two major recessions, they spend less money and often live at home, putting off expensive milestones until they are more settled in their careers. The millennial experience is like no other, and as the first generation to come of age with the internet at their fingertips, they were socialized in the digital era. They are able to harness new technologies for play and work, adopting online shopping, social media, and digital entertainment into their everyday lives. Millennials are also on the forefront of the podcasting trend, which has swept over American airwaves.

Driving the era of the podcast

There’s no doubt that podcasting is more popular now than ever. Everyone has a favorite podcast, be it true crime, self-improvement, or news related. In fact, around 68 million Americans listen to podcasts weekly. In terms of millennials, they are not just a part of this trend, but are paving the way for its success. 41% of millennials say they listen to podcasts at least once a week, and close to one-third say they listen to at least five podcasts a week. Looking at millennials’ close relationship with technology and their fast-paced lifestyle, there’s no wonder they have embraced podcasting.

Easy access

As young members of the workforce, millennials are constantly on their feet. They care deeply about their work-life balance and prioritize making time for career, friends, family, and hobbies. With such busy schedules, finding time to learn new skills or catch up on the news is difficult. Podcasting allows millennials to listen to their favorite shows on the commute to work, during a morning run, while cooking dinner, or before bed. As a generation raised to expect technological convenience, podcasts are the perfect way to stay informed. Time on the train or in the car is no longer a drag when you can tune into an exciting new podcast episode.

“Podcasting allows millennials to listen to their favorite shows on the commute to work, during a morning run, while cooking dinner, or before bed.”

Diverse narratives

Millennials also appreciate podcasts for their accessibility and diversity. A vast generation of different races, ethnicities, cultures, and identities, millennials understand the importance of hearing different perspectives. More than the generations before them, they have been socialized in a changing and diversifying world. Popular podcasts that tell diverse stories include NPR’s “Code Switch” and “Still Processing” from The New York Times. Millennials appreciate the many voices podcasts bring to light and are frequently tuning in to learn. The ease with which anyone can make a podcast helps tear down walls that have traditionally kept many people out of the entertainment sphere.

“Keeping it real”

Although hyper-polished images have dominated the media for decades, millennials are in search of something different. Millennials like “keeping it real” and name authenticity as one of the most important things they consider in supporting a brand. This desire for realness extends to their affinity for podcasts. Jeff Urban, President and Co-Founder of Whistle Sports Network, says, “Millennials don’t care if content is professionally produced, they’re just concerned if it is cool and authentic.” The raw and spontaneous style of podcasts maintains the authenticity millennials are looking for. Without the glitz and glam of television and movies, podcasts cut right to the stories and people millennials tune in to hear about.

“The raw and spontaneous style of podcasts maintains the authenticity millennials are looking for.”

Podcasting has exploded as a field of entertainment in the past two decades. In 2006, close to 10% of Americans had listened to a podcast. Today, that number has grown to more than 50%. Podcasts deliver humor, news, narratives, and business tips in a convenient format. Millennials are a generation focused on ease, inclusion, and genuineness. Their affinity for the podcast space has helped launch it into the mainstream, making it one of America’s favorite pastimes. Millennials are a major and growing contingent in the workforce, making their connection to podcasting important for companies everywhere. Tying podcasting into your corporate strategy will help your company reach this connected generation and stay on the cutting edge. Learn more about how podcasting can advance your work through AIMeCAST today.


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