The following report has been provided by Rising Giants Network, a podcast company dedicated to‘Moving Podcasts Forward’ in the Middle East and beyond. To understand the playing field in Saudi Arabia, it conducted a wide-ranging study, and the momentum is clear; podcasts are at an all-time high and continue to grow with immense speed year on year.30% of survey respondents said that they listen to podcasts on daily basis, while 22% said they listen to podcasts around three times a week.
Overall, 67% of podcast listeners tune in at least once a week. Demonstrating the increasing demand for podcasts is that over half (54%) of podcast listeners surveyed say their consumption has increased in 2021 compared to 2020, compared to less than a fifth (17%) who say it has decreased. Just over a quarter (26%) of podcast listeners say their consumption has remained the same this year as last year.
Male consumers are more likely than female consumers to listen to podcasts once a week or more, however, over half of both male and female podcast listeners say their consumption has increased in 2021 compared to 2020, showing that there is no particular skew across genders. Notably, just 17% of female consumers surveyed say they never listen to podcasts.
Consumers aged 25-34 are the most likely to listen to podcasts once a week or more (72%), closely followed by those aged 45-54 (71%). Similarly, podcast listeners aged 25-34 are the most likely to say their podcast consumption has increased in 2021 compared to 2020. Given the age demographic, this could indicate popularity among young working professionals.
Consumers who live in the Central region are the most likely to listen to podcasts once a week or more, followed by those who live in the Eastern region and then those living in the Western region. Across the regions, the increase in podcast consumption for podcast listeners this year compared to last year remains similar (52%-56%), suggesting this is a truth across the whole of KSA, regardless of location.
Although Apple remains the biggest podcasting platform with over 80% of podcast listeners getting their podcasts from the platform, Anghami is up-and-coming in KSA and changing perceptions. This could be due to Anghami’s investment in exclusive shows, namely the show they did with Arab pop sensation Elissa.
These come over platforms such as Google Podcasts, Castbox, Deezer, Podeo and Audioboom. Furthermore, most podcast listeners engage with audio podcasts, over video who use video or both audio and video (35%).
A higher percentage of those who consume podcasts via audio than those who use video say their ideal length would be 20 minutes or less. Furthermore, for those that actively listen to podcasts, the average ideal length of a podcast episode is 27 minutes.
Female podcast listeners are more likely than male podcast listeners to use Anghami, while male podcast listeners are more likely than female podcast listeners to use Spotify. When it comes to format, male podcast listeners are more likely than female podcast listeners to consume their podcasts via video.
It’s worth noting here, that 25–34-year-olds are the age group consuming the most podcasts and the most frequently. Younger audiences (16–24) are more likely to respond to video formats of the podcasts.
Language Preferences and Listening Habits
Podcast listeners surveyed overwhelmingly say that the main language of their favourite podcast is Arabic. For context, a fifth say the main language of their favourite podcast is English.
Exploring when podcasts are listened to, the top times podcast listeners tend to tune in are:
- 41% while doing housework/chores
- 36% while driving
- 31% on the way to work
- 28% getting ready in the morning
59% of podcast listeners tune into the show for the theme or the topics covered in the podcast, showing that people are more attracted to valuable content while 20% tune in due to the host and 17% due to interesting guests.
Female podcast listeners are more likely than their male counterparts to say the main language of their favourite podcast is in Arabic (85% versus 70%), albeit both genders are more likely to say Arabic than English. Female podcast listeners are most likely to listen to a podcast while doing housework or chores (51%) while male podcast listeners are most likely to listen to a podcast while driving (41%).
Podcast listeners aged 25-34 are the most likely to say the main language of their favourite podcast is Arabic, followed by 35-44-year-olds and 16-24-year-olds. Podcast listeners aged 25-34 and 16-24 are most likely to listen to a podcast while doing housework or chores while podcast listeners aged 35-44 are most likely to listen to a podcast while driving.
Podcast listeners in the Western region are the most likely to say the main language of their favourite podcast is Arabic, followed by the Central region and then the Eastern region. Podcast listeners who live in the Central or Western regions are more likely to say they listen to podcasts while driving than those in the Eastern region.
For podcast listeners, entertainment, with all of its subgenres, came in the lead in terms of preferred content, followed by art, sports, religion, news, wellbeing, current affairs, education, comedy and finally technology.
54% of podcast listeners said they preferred narrative-driven shows, 31% of which preferred a storytelling format, and 23% enjoyed documentary series. About 39% enjoyed conversations and interviews.
The main thing that attracts podcast listeners to a podcast is the specific episode topic, followed by the overall theme/genre of the series, the hosts and the guests. When considering this data point alongside the fact that entertainment (a broad genre) is the favourite genre, it could suggest that podcast listeners look more specifically for episodes they want to listen to, over loyalty to particular hosts.
Male podcast listeners equally favour entertainment and sports genres the most, whereas female podcast listeners favour self-help, mental health and wellbeing as well as entertainment. While female podcast listeners selected storytelling as their favourite format, male podcast listeners selected documentary series formats as their favourite.
For podcast listeners aged 16-24, the top three most favoured genres are entertainment, art and true crime. For podcast listeners aged 25-34, while the most favoured is also entertainment, the second favourite is news and the third is current affairs. Bucking the trend, the most favoured genre for podcast listeners aged 35-44 is art, and this is followed by sports and then entertainment. While all age groups of podcast listeners say that the specific episode topic is what attracted them most to a podcast, respondents aged 25-34 and 35-44 are more likely than those aged 16-24 to say the overall theme/genre of the series most attracts them to a podcast.
The most favoured genre is entertainment across all three regions, however, looking at the second most favoured genre, these differ. For example, for podcast listeners who live in the Central region, the second most favoured genre is religion, whereas for the Eastern region it’s sports and for the Western region it’s art. While podcast listeners across the three regions agree that the specific episode topic is what attracted them most to a podcast, respondents living in the Central region are most likely than those in the Western and Eastern regions to say the hosts are what most attracts them to a podcast.
Some overall trends do not differ much when exploring demographics – such as length preference (around 26 minutes), language preference (Arabic), and genre preference (entertainment). However, there are some variables that the research has shown across the demographics, which should be considered for successful audience targeting. For example, the youngest generation preferring video formats and Spotify as a platform, as well as differences between male and female consumers when it comes to when they listen. Overall, what’s clear from the research is the continued and growing popularity of podcasts in KSA.