Insights From 2022’s Black Podcast Listener Report

This year, I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Atlanta to attend BLK Pod Festival – and the energy was palpable. It felt great to meet so many talented up-and-coming Black podcasters, and connect with Black professionals in the industry.

And yet, as productive and wide-reaching as the festival was, perhaps the most memorable moment came during Nidia Serrano’s presentation on SXM Media’s Black Podcast Listener report, the “first-ever comprehensive research on Black podcast listeners in the United States.”  I’ve never seen such an extensive report on the Black podcast audience: a group often overlooked – but incredibly influential on trends and advertising.


Most Black listeners find out about new podcasts from social media – in fact, the source accounts for 31% of discovery among the audience. (Next is via friends and family at 17%, and athird is through a podcast app, which accounts for 12% of all discovery). Social media apps tend to feed similar content to specific demographics; I personally know a lot of Black Twitter users who see similar trending topics at the top of our feeds. Many viral podcast clips that are popular amongst Black people include a Black host and/or a popular topic in the community. For example, Lauren London trended on Twitter because of her appearance on the Angie Martinez IRL podcast on iHeartRadio.

Another way to grab interest of the Black podcast listener is through the topic and/or host. According to the report, 46% of Black monthly podcast listeners first discovered podcasts based on the topic of interest; 26% found podcasts based on hosts or guests being a familiar TV or movie celebrity; and 25% found podcasts via the host of a radio show. Even today, radio remains a large part of African American culture, with clips from radio shows like The Breakfast Club and Ebro in the Morning trending online in the Black community. TV and movies also make up a large part of the culture and familiar faces like Taraji P. Henson, Denzel Washington, Issa Rae and Jada-Pickett Smith as a host or guest would be sure to bring in a large Black podcast audience. Companion podcasts to TV shows or movies beloved by the community – such as Insecuritea for HBO’s Insecure or Lovecraft Country Radio for HBO’s Lovecraft Country – are similarly popular.

Video is perhaps the most effective way to pull in Black audiences, as 83% of Black listeners have tuned in to a podcast with a video component. I was initially pretty shocked by this statistic, but when you think about the role that social media plays in this audience’s discovery of podcasts, it makes sense. Most content on social media that goes viral does include a video element (look at TikTok) and YouTube is now the leading audience destination for podcasts. So it would make sense that 42% of Black podcast listeners report that they use YouTube to listen to podcasts because they already use it for other types of content.


When it comes to genres, Black listeners engage with Comedy- and Music-related content most of all. For much of July 2022, 8 out of the top 10 music podcasts on Apple were hosted by Black creators. And while only 13% of Black audiences listen to fictional podcasts, a whopping 58% would also be interested in listening to the genre if they were to include Black stories and perspectives. Similarly, 63% would be interested in true crime vs. the current 27% – and 65% (!) of Black listeners would be interested in history vs. the current 20%. All three of these genres present a massive opportunity for growth amongst the Black community.

Diversifying hosts and perspectives is not only great for building audiences – it's also beneficial to advertisers. In fact, 40% of Black monthly podcast listeners say they are more likely to purchase a product if they hear an ad on a podcast. This is impressive by itself – but Black podcast listeners said that if they heard a brand’s ad on a podcast with a Black host, 83% would trust the brand, 84% would consider the brand, 82% would purchase the brand, and 83% would recommend the brand. Black listeners tend to trust brands and products that sponsor Black hosts. Out of the entire report, these were the highest percentages mentioned – and are ones that advertisers should take notice of if they want to reach Black podcast listeners.


When it comes to marketing to Black audiences, there is so much opportunity in the podcast space. A total of 58% Black listeners wish there was more podcast content around niche interests by and for Black voices, while 59% would listen to more podcasts if there were more podcasts with Black hosts. Diversity and representation matters.

Personally, I’d like to see social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram work with Black podcast hosts to market their shows. I’d also love to see podcast networks work with more Black hosts and create shows about Black people or from the Black perspective – whether a true crime, history, or scripted series. And if companies want to reach an untapped audience with an effective way to advertise, they should consider advertising on – or producing their own – podcasts targeting the Black listener.

The results