Recently, we released our 2008 study of the senatorial campaign websites, and there was a particular element that stood out.  Podcasts were being used by fewer candidates than the year before, despite the fact that it seemed to be a very "tech-y" and potentially useful way to get a candidate's message across.

When I inquired to my co-workers about the discovery, one of them replied that he rarely used podcasts, and he believed that they were a "dying Internet art."  At first, I thought that he was alone in his opinion, but the numbers from the Senate report don't lie.

I decided to do a very informal poll of co-workers and friends to see how often they use podcasts.  I simply emailed 50 of my contacts and asked them two questions: "Have you listened to/downloaded a podcast in the last six months?" and "If so, where did you get it?"  All of the people polled were between the ages of 18 and 40, with a balanced gender ratio.

Then, I compiled all the responses and calculated the results.  The graphs (made using ImpactWatch reporting and graphing tools) displaying the data are below.

It's interesting to note that it seems like my co-worker was correct; most people don't really use podcasts.  At least two of the people that I contacted did not even know what a podcast was.

Of those who listened to podcasts, a majority (nearly a 2/3 supermajority) used iTunes to download them.  Several people were unaware of other ways to procure them.  Are users just ignorant of podcasts?  Are they going out of style?  Or both?

I would venture that the rise in the popularity of blogs has killed the podcast.  Reading a blog is quicker than listening to a podcast, and blogs require a MUCH shorter attention span.  Graphs and the spreadsheet of the data follow:

UPDATE: Chuck pointed me towards this report by Universal McCann that displays on page 63 that podcasts in the US are used by 29.5% of users, which is consistent with my poll.

Excel Spreadsheet of Podcast Poll Data