July 14, 2006, 12:00 AM

Podcasting gains traction with U.S. adults, study says

Audio and video versions of podcasting are building a strong following among U.S. consumers aged 18 and up, creating a growing market for e-commerce sites like Apple’s iTunes and eMusic.com, Nielsen/NetRatings reported this week.

Audio and video versions of podcasting are building a strong following among U.S. consumers aged 18 and up, creating a growing market for e-commerce sites like Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes and eMusic.com, Nielsen/NetRatings reported this week.

Within the past month, 6.6% of U.S. online adults, or 9.2 million, have downloaded an audio podcast, while 4%, or 5.6 million, have downloaded a video podcast, Nielsen said. Podcasting, still a new technology that started with consumers downloaded audio and video content to their Apple iPod handheld devices, now covers downloaded content to all types of mobile devices, including other brands of MP3 players and cell phones.

“The portability of podcasts makes them especially appealing to young, on-the-go audiences,” said Michael Lanz, analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings. “We can expect to see podcasting become increasingly popular as portable content media players proliferate.”

Podcasting is most popular among the youngest age groups among adults, Nielsen said. Web users between the ages of 18 and 24 are twice as likely as the average web user to download audio podcats, followed by web users in the 25-34 and 35-44 age groups.

Video podcasting attracts a slightly older audience and is most popular among the 25-34 age group. Web users 45 and older were the least likely to engage in either type of podcasting.

Apple Computer, although it shares the podcasting market with other providers of handheld devices that can receive and play back podcasts, retains a leading position, Nielsen said. Apple.com and iTunes.com ranked second and third among all of the sites most often visited by consumers that use audio podcasts. The top-ranked site was Niketown.com. Although Niketown is not a podcasting site, the survey’s intention was to show a universal look at all sites visited by podcast users, Nielsen said.

The e-commerce sites most often visited by video podcast users were Live365.com, eMusic.com and Niketown.com, Nielsen said.

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