UK podcast listeners willing to pay for premium content for the first time

UK podcast listeners willing to pay for premium content for the first time

Podcasts may seem like a nice-to-have part of the marketing mix but research shows that 7.1 million people in the UK now listen to them weekly and this is reason to suggest they should play a more central role.

Adding strength to the argument is the fact that for the first time the data shows more than half of listeners (59%) would be happy to pay a subscription for content.

The findings come in the second A-List[en]ers, The Business of UK Podcasting report from 4DC.

As consumers grow accustomed to subscription packages across a multitude of services, from Netflix to Hello Fresh, it seems there’s a strong opportunity for podcasts to follow a similar model in what is fast becoming the Holy Grail of marketing.

Respondents said they would be happy to pay for premium content at an average of £4 (£4.03) per month, or around £50 a year. This indicates strongly that the next phase in the development of podcast services will be paid subscriptions.

A return on investment?

The research found 80% of listeners are either positive or neutral to receiving adverts with a sizeable 59% willing to buy from a brand advertised in a podcast. As these audiences grow, good messaging can fast increase a brand’s commercial opportunity concludes the report, with 22% of listeners purchasing at least one product discussed.

The importance of aligning brand messages with consumer interest is backed up by the report’s findings, as more than half of listeners (56%) go on to research the brands mentioned either immediately or straight after the podcast has finished. This consequently highlights the vital need for online visibility.

Peter Mitchell, Co-Founder, 4DC, says, “With just a fifth of consumers saying they don’t want to hear ads or sponsorship in podcasts, brands should seize commercial opportunities. Recall of brand mentions is staggering with a large – but growing – audience willing to buy straight away.

“For those listeners who don’t want to be targeted, we have been told they would be willing to spend for premium programming, either going ad-free or signing up to a subscription. In 2018, the UK market for delivery subscriptions broke through the £2bn barrier and looks to be welcoming podcasts into the fray as a healthy new revenue system for brands. The likes of Luminary are taking a Netflix-style approach, offering premium content at an affordable monthly cost.”

Savvy Savers

There is much in the research to interest the financial sector. It found that podcast listeners are wise with their money and willing to save. They saved more than £2,000 a year on average, a notable 25% more than non-listeners. However, listeners are not averse to a loan: 16% have taken one out, compared to 10% of non-listeners.

Encouragingly, 59% of listeners believe that podcast advertising is relevant to them, and a significant 57% trust it. In the right context, this trust is something brands and institutions will benefit from, the report suggests.


The US clearly leads the way in podcasting prowess, using powerful celebrities to draw in listeners. The likes of Joe Rogan’s self-titled programme is currently number one in the subscriber charts for 2019.

Celebrities...the recognizable voice is a powerful pull

Although the UK is embryonic in comparison, we’re certainly becoming more attuned to hearing recognisable voices: half of listeners say it’s important they have heard of the presenter when picking a new podcast.

As we see more and more celebrities in the UK hosting their own shows, from Fearne Cotton to Peter Crouch, the growing demand is clear. In fact, the previous 4DC report from June 2019 indicated that 17% of listeners preferred a celebrity presenter, climbing to 25% in only six months.

Howard Kosky, Co-Founder, 4DC, says, “The UK podcast audience, A-list(en)ers, are active, loyal, connected, growing in number – and possess valuable spending power. This data demonstrates podcasts are fast becoming a normal part of people’s routines. They are now an established information and entertainment service. As a platform for brands, this is an ROI opportunity not to be missed.”


4DC commissioned proprietary research to create this report. The research was conducted by Opinion Matters, with 3,103 respondents (2,003 non-podcast listeners and 1,100 podcast listeners) aged 16+ in GB between 11.10.19 – 23.10.19. For comparison, data has been used from other markets – primarily the USA – to understand, predict and speculate as to how the UK podcasting scene might develop.