The Red Line In Podcasts: What Drives Listeners Away

Podcast listeners are more forgiving than you might think: They’ll tolerate bad language and political views they don’t like. But they won’t sit still for racism, judging by the podcast brand safety & suitability study by Audacy, conducted by Alter Agents. 

First, here's the good news about podcast listeners: 80% will listen through ad breaks and 37% can quickly recall the messages.  

Why do they listen at all? Of those surveyed, 57% want to be entertained, 55% seek to be informed and 54% expect to hear new things.

Moreover, hosts are widely trusted: 43% of listeners are likely to purchase from host-read ads. And 54% trust hosts to pick worthy sponsors. But 80% say it’s important for hosts to do their research. 

Does controversy cause people to stop listening? Not at all: 73% say it doesn’t affect their opinion of advertisers. And almost 50% think well of a brand associated with controversial content.  



But there are limits. Here are triggers that will drive podcast listeners away:  

  • Saying racist statements—61%
  • Focusing on cruel content—40% 
  • Using derogatory language towards someone else—39% 
  • Advertising brands too much—31% 
  • Focusing on sexual content—31%
  • Saying statements that don’t align with political beliefs—24% 
  • Cursing/using foul language—23% 
  • Including sexual content—20%
  • Advertising a brand that has values don’t agree with—19%
  • Advertising brands or products that are clearly not liked by the host—14% 
  • Inviting controversial guests—12% 
  • Advertising brands that are not liked—11% 
  • Discussing controversial topics—8% 
  • There is nothing a host could do or say to cause listener to stop listening—9%

Alter Agents surveyed 6,000 listeners from July 28 to August 3, 2023.

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