When Reaching New Podcast Users, the First 20 Minutes Matter

May 2023

The new MRI-Simmons April 2023 Podcast Study provides insights on how podcast listeners discover and try new podcasts. NPR’s Audience Insights team breaks down the findings and how they apply to the podcast adoption funnel, from learning about podcasts to deciding what to try to deciding to listen regularly.

1. How do you learn about new podcasts?

Personal recommendations and social media top the list, but people also find podcasts from app directories and in-podcast promotion. NPR’s listeners mention most methods at higher rates but the ranking is similar to podcast users generally. This emphasizes the importance of podcast promotion via social media, cross-promos, and visibility in apps.

2. Once you’ve heard about it, what is most influential in choosing a podcast to try? 

Genre, host and production quality are the top considerations. So is the description of the podcast, highlighting the importance of this element when launching new podcasts.

The producer brand falls relatively low in consideration among podcast users overall, but is notably more important to the NPR audience. NPR’s listeners are 41% more likely to say the brand is very important to them.

3. How long do you listen before deciding you’ll want to listen regularly?

The first 20 minutes matter — the largest share of listeners (38%) say they decide in the first 5-20 minutes. Another 31% claim to give it one full episode, which could still be within 20 minutes or less depending on the title. Younger listeners are more likely to give a podcast time to make an impression — 55% say they will listen to 1 or more episodes, compared to 50% of 35-54s and only 30% of podcast listeners 55+. So, when trying to bring in a new audience, that first episode, and especially the first 20 minutes, needs to really catch them.

Did you know?

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