Cumulus Media And Signal Hill Insights’ Podcast Download — Spring 2021 Report


NEW YORK, NY – MAY 11 – Cumulus Media, in partnership with Signal Hill Insights, today released Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights’ Podcast Download – Spring 2021 Report, a comprehensive evaluation incorporating several studies that examine podcast audience and advertiser trends over the past five years. 

The sixth installment of the study was released to coincide with the IAB Podcast Upfront as part of Cumulus Media’s commitment to share insights and research findings with the podcast community. Topics covered in the Podcast Download Report include usage trends, content trends, and advertising trends, all of which evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Our new Podcast Download Report underscores the power of the podcast,” said Suzanne Grimes, EVP, Marketing for Cumulus Media and President, Westwood One. “Listeners look to podcasts for stories, for entertainment, for learning, and for escape, especially in a year of such upheaval. Audiences soared as listeners experimented with a broader array of content genres and used more distribution platforms than ever to listen to their podcasts.” 

“Not only has the pandemic had an impact on growth but it opened new doors for podcast hosts. Social audio apps like Clubhouse revealed themselves to be natural marketing brand platforms for podcast hosts and shows,” said Jeff Vidler, President and Founder of Signal Hill Insights. “Nearly all the first-in-line visitors to Clubhouse are also podcast listeners, giving podcasters and, by extension, podcast advertisers a new avenue to reach listeners.” 

The Spring 2021 edition reveals valuable insights for content creators and advertisers. Some highlights from the report: 

  • The pandemic was a podcast listening accelerant: Among weekly podcast listeners, the COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for increased podcast listening. In March 2021, 53% of weekly listeners reported spending more time with podcasts since the pandemic, up +29% from July 2020 (41%). 
  • Genre exploration: Regular listenership is growing across most podcast genres, suggesting that weekly podcast listeners are venturing out and listening to new genres.  
  • Eager audience with about 1 in 2 tuning in on episode drop day: Weekly podcast listeners are enthusiastic about their favorite podcasts. 46% reported listening to their favorite podcast within a day of its release.  
  • Pitching ad-free podcast subscriptions won’t win over listeners: Content is the main attraction for weekly podcast listeners. When choosing podcast subscription features, weekly listeners will pick exclusive content over an ad-free experience. 
  • Clubhouse is a natural brand extension for podcast shows and hosts: Awareness and usage of Clubhouse over-indexes among weekly podcast listeners versus the total U.S. general population. When asked, the majority of weekly listeners who are aware of Clubhouse agree that the app would be a good fit for their favorite podcast show or host. 
  • Platforms have exploded while the big three dominate: Weekly podcast listeners are accessing their podcasts on more platforms. Still, Apple, Spotify, and YouTube have a strong hold on being the most used podcast platforms and continue to grow at the expense of other competitors. 
  • Unique need state fulfillment: Podcasts are unique, being one of the few mediums where listeners come for entertainment and learning, cultivating an engaged audience.  
  • Listeners feel podcasts are under-commercialized: Weekly podcast listeners are comfortable hearing ads and the more time they spend with podcasts, the more ads they will accept. 
  • High CPMs warranted: Podcasts have the greatest ad attentiveness compared to other media. 

Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights’ Podcast Download – Spring 2021 Report is available in full for download at  


The study is done from a nationally representative sample of podcast listeners, specifically weekly podcast listeners. The report looks at heavy podcast listeners (those who listen 6+ hours per week) as well as podcast listeners based on when they started to listen – podcast pioneers (4+ years ago), podcast newcomers (past 6 months), and then the ones who started 2-3 years and in the past 7-12 months. 

Report Methodology 

Cumulus Media | Westwood One, in partnership with Signal Hill Insights, commissioned a study of weekly podcast listeners with MARU/Matchbox, a nationally recognized leader in consumer research. The sixth installment in the series, this report includes questions trended back to the inaugural 2017 study. This also marks the second study released since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic. This study was fielded online using a nationally representative sample of 600 respondents who were adults age 18 and over, spent at least one hour listening to podcasts within the past week, and not employed in the advertising, public relations, marketing, market research, radio, television, digital, or podcasting industries. Surveys were conducted between March 19-25, 2021. 

About Signal Hill Insights 

Signal Hill Insights specializes in audio research, partnering with publishers, broadcasters, and advertisers to tap new opportunities in audio. Clients include many of North America’s leading broadcasters and podcast networks. 

About Cumulus Media   

Cumulus Media (NASDAQ: CMLS) is a leading audio-first media and entertainment company delivering premium content to over a quarter billion people every month — wherever and whenever they want it. Cumulus Media engages listeners with high-quality local programming through 415 owned-and-operated stations across 86 markets; delivers nationally-syndicated sports, news, talk, and entertainment programming from iconic brands including the NFL, the NCAA, the Masters, CNN, the AP, the Academy of Country Music Awards, and many other world-class partners across nearly 7,300 affiliated stations through Westwood One, the largest audio network in America; and inspires listeners through its rapidly growing network of original podcasts that are smart, entertaining and thought-provoking. Cumulus Media provides advertisers with personal connections, local impact and national reach through broadcast and on-demand digital, mobile, social, and voice-activated platforms, as well as integrated digital marketing services, powerful influencers, full-service audio solutions, industry-leading research and insights, and live event experiences. Cumulus Media is the only audio media company to provide marketers with local and national advertising performance guarantees. For more information visit 


Karen Glover | Westwood One |