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Podcasts apps cut into fast lane. Thank millennials

Podcasts, once a niche category, continues to surge in popularity thanks to millennials who are listening to audio programs on the go.

The number of people using mobile apps to discover and listen to podcasts increased 60% compared with January 2018, according to data released Wednesday by Adobe Analytics. People ages 25 to 34, known as millennials, were a key driver of the growth, with about one-third of millennial podcast listeners consuming at least five podcasts a week, Adobe said.

“There’s not only a massive trend towards adoption of podcasts, but the amount of podcasts per person is actually quite high,” said Colin Morris, director, product management with Adobe Analytics. “That shows there is a lot of opportunity.”

Adobe Analytics, which is part of San Jose-based software company Adobe Inc., based its findings on a survey of about 1,000 U.S. adult podcast and audio book listeners and Comscore data. About half of the people surveyed said they listen to podcasts on their way to work or while they work. The most preferred type of podcast was comedy and humor (46%), followed by educational (28%), history (27%) and true crime or crime documentary (26%), according to Adobe Analytics.

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The growth in the podcast industry has led to consolidation, as larger players seek to establish their dominance. Spotify said it planned to spend as much as $500 million on podcast-related acquisitions this year. One of Spotify’s purchases was of L.A.-based podcasting firm Parcast, known for its true crime and mystery stories for about $56 million.

Last week, Philadelphia-based media and entertainment company Entercom Communications Corp. announced it acquired Brooklyn-based podcast producer Pineapple Street Media for $18 million and entered into an agreement to buy New York-based podcasting firm Cadence13.

“This is an amazing time for podcasting,” said Jenna Weiss-Berman, co-founder of Pineapple Street Media said in a statement regarding the acquisition. “This moment is unprecedented — the energy, the growth, the talent coming to the medium.”

Podcasts have historically made money through ads, but companies like Spotify are also hoping to make money through subscriptions. Adobe Analytics said 60% of listeners look up products or services they hear about through a podcast ad, with nearly a quarter of them making a purchase. Adobe said a quarter of podcast listeners are willing to pay for a subscription to listen to programs ad-free.