This piece was made as part of Acast’s Audio Fiction Week. You can find out more about Audio Fiction Week at acast.com/audiofictionweek, or via #AcastAudioFictionWeek on social.
This week, Acast is celebrating all things fiction — from dazzling science fiction audio to heartbreaking romance podcasts, there really is something for every listener. But who are these listeners? And, more importantly, how are they listening?
With our partners at Nielsen, Acast surveyed US podcast listeners to see what we can learn about fiction podcasting, the trends, and the people who love it as much as we do.
Fiction podcasting is a broad church with a varied and devoted audience
There are so many different genres within fiction podcasting with completely unique and dedicated audiences — no different to any storytelling medium, like video games, movies or novels. It only takes a brief glimpse at the countless pieces of fan art found on The Magnus Archives Subreddit Page to see how invested listeners are in these shows and their particular genre of audio fiction. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re listening to other genres.
According to our study, only 38% of Romance listeners also have time for Sci-Fi podcasts, while just 39% of Fantasy fans will find themselves listening to Thriller/Mystery shows. It might seem obvious but it bears repeating: you can’t treat a horror nut the same way you would a rom-com aficionado. And it works the same in fiction podcasting.
As an advertiser, if you want to reach a large audience in fiction podcasting, you’ll need to vary where you place your messaging — and, depending on that messaging, some audiences within audio-fiction will be a far more effective fit than others. These listeners are not one identical mass to be lumped together.
Audio fiction listeners keep things exclusive
At least 15% of audio fiction listeners listen exclusively to fiction podcasts. That means they’re hard to reach — and they know what they like.
So, in addition to fiction listeners tending to be genre-exclusive, a not insignificant portion of them also don’t listen to any other podcasts. This is a valuable group that can be hard to contact elsewhere — if you’re looking to find an audience outside of the more widely covered podcast genres, like interview and chat show podcasts, fiction is your space.
Fiction listeners trust podcast advertising
In the US, Horror podcast listeners are 35% more likely to say they have considered purchasing products they’ve heard advertised in podcasts. For specific genres, that’s 32% more likely for Fantasy fans, 25% for Sci-Fi, 20% for Mystery, and 19% for Thriller/Suspense.
58% of Fantasy podcast listeners also say that advertising on a podcast is the best way for a brand to reach them — that’s versus 34% for Horror listeners in general, 27% for Sci-Fi, 22% for Mystery, and 11% for Thriller/Suspense.
This uptick can be attributed to a couple of things.
Firstly, fiction podcasters build loyal followings with their listeners. They may be playing a character on their show, but listeners usually still know the creators and engage with them on other platforms. They know they’ve built their fanbase on great stories, told with care and dedication — and listeners trust that the content they’re aligning themselves with will be solid.
Crucially, listeners are so positive towards the messages they hear in their favorite fiction podcast thanks to the dedication the creators put into their reads. Their shows are quality pieces of audio, where every millisecond is agonised over — and they bring that same creativity and attention to detail to their work with advertisers.
Just read our recent interviews for Audio Fiction Week with Jon Grilz, host of Creepy, and Callum Dougherty, Chief Marketing Officer of Rusty Quill, about this very subject.
The audio-fiction podcast audience is a diverse group of dedicated listeners who trust podcasts to tell them the truth about products and services. They’re the type of listeners who go all-in with the things they like, whether that’s characters, plot lines or brands. They buy merchandise and attend live shows.