Do Black podcast listeners prefer different programming than white?
Black U.S. podcast listeners choose distinct topics, have different reasons for listening than other groups
BY ELISA SHEARER, PEW Research
About half of Americans (49%) say they have listened to a podcast in the past year, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. This share is roughly consistent across racial and ethnic groups, but Black podcast listeners tend to turn to podcasts about certain topics more frequently and listen to them for different reasons than listeners of other racial and ethnic backgrounds.
How we did this
The survey, conducted Dec. 5-11, 2022, asked podcast listeners whether they regularly listen to podcasts about 12 topics, ranging from comedy to true crime. At least half of Black podcast listeners regularly listen to podcasts about four of those topics: entertainment and pop culture (65%); self-help and relationships (57%); comedy (57%); and money and finance (51%).
For many of the topics studied, the share of Black podcast listeners who say they regularly listen to such podcasts is higher than the shares of White and Hispanic listeners who say the same. For example, while 57% of Black podcast listeners turn to podcasts about self-help and relationships, four-in-ten Hispanic podcast listeners and a quarter of White listeners choose these podcasts. (The survey’s sample size was not large enough to report results for Asian podcast listeners separately.)
Black podcast listeners are also more likely to listen to podcasts about race and ethnicity. About four-in-ten Black listeners (43%) regularly choose this topic, compared with far fewer Hispanic (19%) and White (9%) listeners.
Other topics that Black podcast listeners are more likely than White or Hispanic listeners to engage with regularly are money and finance, sports, and health and fitness.
Black listeners are also more likely than White listeners (though about on par with Hispanic listeners) to turn to podcasts about religion and spirituality, comedy, and entertainment.
A separate question in the same survey asked about Americans’ consumption of news podcasts. Notably, Black listeners are more likely than White or Hispanic listeners to engage with all three kinds of news podcasts asked about in the survey: those that explain a topic in the news in-depth, those that feature hosts’ opinions about the news and those that summarize major news stories of the day. About two-thirds of Black podcast listeners consume each type of news podcast, compared with closer to half of White and Hispanic listeners.
It makes sense, then, that Black podcast listeners are more likely to say they ever hear news discussed on podcasts. About three-quarters of Black podcast listeners (76%) say this, compared with 67% of White podcast listeners and 64% of Hispanic listeners.
Black Americans turn to podcasts for distinct reasons
When it comes to why they engage with podcasts, Black listeners are more likely to give certain reasons than those from other racial and ethnic backgrounds. Most Black listeners say they turn to podcasts to learn: About six-in-ten Black podcast listeners cite this as a major reason (61%), about the same as the share of White listeners (56%) and significantly higher than the share of Hispanic listeners (47%) who say the same. In addition, four-in-ten Black podcast listeners say that staying up to date about current events is a major reason they turn to podcasts, compared with 28% each among White and Hispanic listeners. Black listeners are also more likely than White listeners (but about on par with Hispanic listeners) to turn to podcasts for encouragement or inspiration, or to hear others’ opinions.
Note: Here are the questions used for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.