Americans can't seem to get enough of true crime, a new study has found.
A new study by Pew Research Center investigated the trend and found that true crime is the most common topic among top-ranked podcasts, with 34% of US adults who have listened to a podcast in the past year saying they regularly listen to podcasts about true crime.
The poll found that women are almost twice as likely as men to regularly listen to true crime podcasts. Furthermore, demographics and age play a role in who is most likely to be a true crime fan. Overall, women with lower levels of formal education were the biggest whodunit podcast aficionados.
Pew found that podcast listeners with less formal education are more likely than those with higher levels of education to listen to shows about true crime. Of podcast listeners who have a high school diploma or less, 45% regularly listen to true crime podcasts. A third of podcast listeners with some college education say the same. The same was true for 27% of those who have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Americans between 18-29 years old are more likely to tune into a show about true crime, with 41% saying they regularly do so, whereas only 15% of US podcast listeners aged 65 or older said the same.
What are true crime buffs listening to?
Top-ranked podcasts available on Apple and Spotify in the true crime genre include Serial, 20/20, Crime Junkie, Dateline NBC, and My Favorite Murder. Pew reported that Crime Junkie and Dateline NBC are among the most popular podcasts cited by podcast listeners who gave a name for the show they tune in to most with one percent citing each of these podcasts.
In rare cases, true crime podcasts have been known to help solve murders, such as the 2022 ruling that former Sydney school teacher Christopher Dawson was guilty of murdering his former wife 40 years ago to pursue a relationship with their family babysitter, all thanks to an investigative podcast.
Dawson, 74, had been accused of murdering his first wife Lynette Dawson in 1982. Lynette’s body was never found and Dawson had consistently denied his involvement in her disappearance.
New South Wales supreme court Justice Ian Harrison delivered the guilty verdict. The case made headlines after it was featured in a popular true-crime podcast by Australian news outlet The Australian called “The Teacher’s Pet.”
The true-crime podcast by The Australian’s investigative reporter Hedley Thomas dug deep into the cold case that was left unsolved for 36 years and it brought a lot of attention to it.
The podcast was listened to by tens of millions of people, and because of its popularity and what Thomas uncovered, the police were able to arrest Dawson on murder charges. According to the podcast, Thomas suggested that there were serious errors made by the police at the time of the initial investigation. In addition, the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions failed to charge Dawson after having knowledge of the two separate instances.
Results from the Pew poll indicated that despite skyrocketing ratings, other topics are more popular than true crime among American podcast listeners. These topics include comedy, with 47% of US adults polled saying they tune in to the genre and entertainment, pop culture and the arts, with 46% reporting the same.