Podcast use increases, not yet mainstream: Pew Study

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Twelve percent of Internet users say they have downloaded a podcast so they can listen to it or view it at a later time.

This finding comes from a nationally representative telephone survey of 2,928 adults done by the Pew Internet & American Life Project during the month of August. The portion of the survey that covered podcast downloading was administered to 972 Internet users.

"While podcast downloading is still an emerging activity primarily enjoyed by early adopters, the range of content now available speaks to both mainstream and niche audiences," said Mary Madden, senior research specialist at the Pew Internet & American Life Project, Washington, D.C. "We are at a crossroads of a major transition in the way media content is delivered and consumed, and podcasters stand ready in the wings to provide the tools to meet users' demand for entertainment on their own terms."

The Pew Internet Project is a non-partisan, nonprofit research center that examines the social impact of the Internet. It is part of the Pew Research Center and is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

According to Pew, the 12 percent finding compares to the 7 percent of Internet users who reported podcast downloading in Pew's February to April 2006 survey. However, few Internet users are downloading podcasts with great frequency--in both surveys, just 1 percent report downloading a podcast on a typical day.

The survey found that men are more likely than women to report podcast downloading. In fact, 15 percent of online men say they have downloaded a podcast, compared with 8 percent of online women. And those who have used the Internet for six or more years are twice as likely as those who have been online three years or less to have downloaded a podcast. That figure was13 percent versus 6 percent.

The range of content available to those interested in podcasts has exploded over the past two years, Pew said. While early podcasters typically distributed syndicated audio files and radio shows, the survey found that podcasters now routinely deliver many kinds of digital multimedia content, including video, images and text.

"As more Americans become tethered to mobile gadgets and enamored with the ability to time shift and place shift the way they enjoy digital media, the more attractive podcasted content becomes," Ms. Madden said.

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