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Youtube is Top App for Black Podcast Listeners: The Black Podcast Listener Report 2021 Review

This year SXM Media, Mindshare, and Edison Research teamed up to bring us 'The Black Podcast Listener Report 2021'. The motivation given for this research is podcasting rising in popularity, and part of it is who's listening to these podcasts.

Who Is The Data From

SXM Media is the advertising arm of the Sirus XM company, which owns Stitcher, a podcasting platform, and Pandora, which recently added podcasting to its app. Mindshare is one the run of the mill multinational marketing corporations that work with some of the more prominent brands. You'll never hear about them, but you have likely been exposed to their work. Edison does many different types of consumer-related industry research.

Who Is The Data For

As I read through the data, I had to check my eyes because I couldn't help but look at it through the eyes of a podcaster. The data intends to serve the advertisers key statistics that will sell them on the idea that advertising on black podcasts is a good if not effective move. As a podcaster, I searched for ways that could help me grow my audience. Instead, the data reflects the most obvious points podcasters are aware of and facts that reign true across media platforms. 

The 2021 research confirms many assumptions that black podcasters may think about their listeners. Here are a few interesting stories that the data tells.

Word Of Mouth Is King For Growth and Discovery For Black Podcast Listener

31% discover podcasts through social media + 17% Recommended from friends and family = 48% Word Of Mouth

Podcasting has had many advancements in its relationship with social media. As more podcasts have added video elements, the repurposing became much more innate than making the audiograms with an accompanying image or podcast cover. Now podcast content doesn't stick out as it used to on social feed. Having people's faces made it more natural in social media feeds. Part of what drives social media is the ability to share with others. My gut tells me a cross-section of those who discovered by recommendation and those who saw it on social media. I have been recommended podcasts in conversations because I talk about podcasts a lot. I don't think the rest of the world uses the word as much. Most people share via DM's, text message links to posts, and others. The line is blurry at best. Would iMessage group chats count as a social media share or friends and family recommendation? 

As a Podcaster: The social media statistic is something I think should be broken down a bit more. I want to know when they found these podcasts in social media, how many were search-based, and how many were DM/Story/Reel/Recommendation. Then there's the other thing I was curious about is which social media site did you find it on? My guess is Twitter for most.

Sharing Podcasts At Home Creates Emphasis on Video

46% Found Podcasts by topics their interested

75% Do you ever listen to podcasts that have Video that you actively watch while listening

71% of Black Podcast Listeners listen to podcasts at home, and 47% of them listen with family and friends.

Based on this research, personal experiences, and what I know to be true is YouTube is a primary source of entertainment for every demographic, mainly black people. Even though 75% of listeners have an audio-only relationship with podcasts while 75% are watching podcasts. 71% listen at home and 48% of those listeners share the experience with others. You can make the assumption that people watch podcasts together. A particular living arrangement gives a shared audio experience, and it's not common. The study shows that 40% say it's easier to pay attention, and 32% say it's easier to have others involved in the experience with a video podcast. 

YouTube Is The Gateway To Black Podcast Listeners

YouTube dominates as a consumption source for podcasting and has only started making significant plans to optimize its business for the format. 42% of listeners say they use YouTube for other purposes and added podcasts to the list.

It would be safe when watching content with others they can agree on. The top two topics for podcasts are comedy at 48% and music at 43%, which are prevalent in cultural conversations.

For Podcasters: With all these numbers being so similar, it feels like 40% of podcast listeners are watching comedy and music podcasts on YouTube. Video and the entire visual component will significantly impact growing podcasts, and especially now YouTube is officially a part of the game. Most of these 'podcasts' are not true to the artform and fit the description of a YouTube talk show. I'll jump to the conclusion that there's a lot of 85 South, The Breakfast Club, and Joe Budden watchers in the survey.

Black Business Podcasts Show a Big Opportunity or May Need To Invest In YouTube

With 26% listening to a business podcast, 66% stated they would be interested in a business/economy podcast if it came from a black perspective. It seems there is a disconnect between the discovery of black-hosted business podcasts and the initiative to add them into the fold. There is a  sense that it may be intentional. Since most of the major podcast players come from radio, TV, and other mediums, don't push business and economics because the ad dollars are coming in off music and entertainment. Think iHeart business model of one foot in the radio world and one foot in the podcast game and using the same advertising department for both entities. 

Looking in your native podcast app for black business podcasts will give you hundreds of results, but as stated earlier, this is not how black people find podcasts. They need recommendations. Earn Your Leisure is the only business-based podcast that non-podcast people have ever recommended to me. Their platform is robust, but their awareness has skyrocketed since joining the Black Effect by iHeart. 40% haven't been referred to a black business podcast. YouTube has a lot of room for business podcasts to own some unclaimed real estate. The opportunity for the hosts will be to create a shared experience and start doing things to raise general awareness to claim a spot in the consciousness. 


When it comes to monetization, podcasters are bearing the load of the work. It would be great if advertisers' relationships were more lucrative. Advertisers are always looking for ways to spend smarter but nothing about podcasting can really give them an advantage unless things are targeted. The Black Podcast listener research shows that some of those obvious facts but more interesting the question that I want answers to shows me a lack of focus of helping podcasters be more appealing to advertisers and only seeing those who are spending the money. The results have the podcaster in me asking more questions.

50% Following the podcast, the host, or the creator on social media

Q: Which sites did they follow on? Was it on multiple sites? Instagram, Linkedin? Twitter?

86% show monetary support

Q: How many do more than one?

45% Watching live-streamed events

Q: Where are these live streams being watched?

27% Subscribing to paid ad-free podcasts

Q: This is new on Apple and Spotify, and I wonder if YouTube Premium skewing these numbers?


"These consumers want content that reflects their lives and experiences, including shows with relatable creators. Half of the surveyed users said it was important to listen to shows with Black hosts, and more than half wanted shows that include Black stories and perspectives….In fact, 59% of these consumers say they would even listen more if there were more podcasts with Black hosts."

In other words, black people trust black people who are relatable. According to a 2012 Nielson report, 'African-American Consumers' "91% of Blacks believe Black media is more relevant to them," and "81% believe that products advertised on Black media are more relevant to them". The concept isn't new. It just hasn't been said too often about podcasting. 


I'm disappointed that podcasters are not being prioritized when collecting data about listeners. This research is only the latest example of what we are looking at. The content marketing age is in full swing, and at some point, podcasts will be bought up and spun up by brands who want something to build on. YouTube looks to be the big winner in the conversations about podcasts amongst black people.

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