Lee Odden

Reader Poll: Podcast Popularity vs Live Streaming Audio

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Reader Polls


I’ve had some back and forth with collegues recently about the popularity of podcasting, live audio streaming and also how podcasting fits within the social media category of communication channels.

eMarketer says podcasts are rising in popularity: “As a percentage of Internet users, podcast downloaders will grow from 9% in 2008 to 17% in 2013”.  The Pew Internet & American Life Project also indicates an uptick in podcast popularity, stating that 19% of all internet users have downloaded a podcast in 2008, up from 12% in 2006.

It seems to me that live streaming audio is likely more on the rise but I did not find any research at eMarketer or at Pew about the distinction between podcasts and streaming audio on the web. Hopefully you can help me out by taking this poll.

Which do you listen to more often, downloaded podcasts or live streaming audio?

  • Downloaded Podcasts (50%, 44 Votes)
  • Live Streaming Audio (41%, 36 Votes)
  • I don't listen to either (9%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 88

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Thank you for participating.  If you’re aware of any research or studies done on the popularity and use of podcasts vs live streaming audio, please share in the comments. Share your opinion or more information about how you might use podcasts or live streaming audio.

As for the topic of podcasts and social media, the question that’s come up is, “Are podcasts really social media?”.  I had a pretty good response on Twitter when posing this question both for and against.  Some say that podcasting is unidirectional, there’s no direct interaction with the audio content. However, others stated that podcast hosting platforms or aggregators allow comments just like a blog post. That qualifies as interaction in my book.

Speaking of podcasts and social media, be sure to check out the award winning Dishy Mix by the amazing Susan Bratton, winner of Online Marketing Blog’s “Best Podcast on Social Media”.

PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. I do not listen to any audio. The main reason that I prefer text is time. I can easily find the main points in an article, but I must listen to the whole thing on a podcast.


    • Hi Nate –

      How about podcasts with multiple people talking about current industry issues? I find this sort of thing to be helpful to get multiple perspectives, and I catch up on these while exercising, flying, taking the train, etc.

  2. Avatar Andi Narvaez says

    One vote for “For Immediate Release.” GREAT, great podcast.

  3. For me personally, this one’s a no-brainer. I’ll take podcasts over live (audio) streaming 9 times out of 10, since other listerers and I can choose the time and place most convenient to listen.

    Where there’s actual interaction involved – as in a live webcast – that’s a different story. It’s tremendously valuable, though, to have these archived in an easily-downloadable, standard video format (320 x 240, .mp4 or .wmv) in that scenario, as well.

  4. Some of us don’t have access to either! Believe it or not, there are many places in the world, even in North America, where dial-up is still the only option (unless you can afford very expensive options).

  5. The vote is a bit skewed because people actually use streaming audio more than they realize. Besides, podcast is a much more trendy phrase to associate yourself with.

    Watching CNN with millions of other people on Facebook counts as streaming audio and video. Pandora counts as streaming audio. The list goes on.

    As a technology, streaming audio is a much bigger step than a podcast which is essentially just an audio file with an RSS feed.

    • I agree with Chris that most people probably think of streaming audio as radio, not video. I responded to the poll as a streaming audio person as I listen to live radio via a stream. I don’t like headsets at the gym so don’t download podcasts for that purpose, although a lot of people do this. The same with travel: a lot of us take podcasts on long trips. The poll needs a bit more parameters to be a bit more accurate, imo. But good start.

  6. I was just looking at stats for a recent podcast of mine, and the Podpress plugin breaks out the types of listens in three ways:

    feed: 18.1%
    download: 69.3%
    play: 12.6%

    But other shows on the same site have very different breakouts.

    Apparently, a lot of people are downloading either to an MP3 player or to play later on their computer.

    • Exactly — only a small slice of the world is wifi connected endlessly.

      The rest of us like to “store” the info when we can for more convenient timing on tuning in…

      What is needed to be given a true option? Most of the streamings are offered for “download” but they still demand connection — i’m confused by why that is named “download” vs simply “streaming” – actually.


  7. Lee, i listen to both streamed and downloaded podcasts – FAR, FAR preferring the OPTION to also download — so can independently transfer to iPod on the road AND access WITHOUT wifi connection.

  8. I think the popularity of PodCasts is the portability of it. Tons of people have MP3 players, and it’s a great opportunity to do something productive while you’re stuck in traffic, commuting on bus/train, or even working out (it helps get my mind off the torturous exercise, and brainstorming things I can be doing in my business).

    I’ve recently upgraded to a BlackBerry, so now I can read articles/blogs online too, so that would be the other way I’m intaking information on the go.

    Great Article!

  9. Both have their advantages. More people are going the download route for time conveniences purposes.

  10. I am actually suprised about the growthnumber: 9 to 17%.

    Podcasting is very popular because of its portability and as portability is a big trend at the moment..
    You need to keep in mind, a lot of the people commenting on this blog are up to date within these technologies. As podcasting is a little more new than live streaming i’d say.. Give the rest of the people a little more time and numbers will go up, very soon!

  11. I’m a big podcast fan. Being able to subscribe and to quickly download exactly what you want is great.

  12. I recently recorded an interview with Paul Verna, Senior researcher at eMarketer (he wrote the research report on Podcasting)


    Some of you may be interested in check this out.

  13. Agree with Mike Russell, i would any day pick podcast over live audio streaming because of the convenience to listen anywhere at any time, what is the bit-rate for live audio streaming?

  14. While I provide a live stream on BlogTalkRadio show, most of my listeners come through downloads at a later date.

    I guess I consider streaming to be live rather than clicking on a pre-recorded audio player to listen.