Listening to podcasts has become a part of the daily routine for Americans on their way to work, while they exercise, clean their house, or simply as they relax before bed. As of 2021, there are over two million active podcasts and more than 48 million podcast episodes available.
Most podcasts are also being consumed simultaneously with the average listener subscribing to an average of six shows per week. Podcasts tend to provide listeners with knowledge on topics that interest them, which is why nearly three out of every four podcast listeners in the US say they enjoy tuning into podcasts to learn new things.
When it comes to the best type of environment to listen to podcasts, recent podcasting data also shows that 90% of podcast listening is done from home while 64% of listening is done in the car — helping shows of different genres and trending categories to remain easily accessible at all times.
“It’s just become so much easier to find and listen to podcasts than it used to be,” said Dan Franks, the co-founder and President of the Podcast Movement, which is the world’s largest podcasting conference. “Now, most people’s cell phones come off the shelf with at least one app that allows them to listen to podcasts. So it went from having to actively seek them out, to now accidentally stumble upon them and learn how cool they are.”
Social media apps on mobile devices have accelerated the spread of podcasts and increased the investment from large companies like Spotify and Apple. From personalized digital advertisements to show recommendations from family, friends or celebrities — new listeners can discover podcasts at a faster rate. Although music will most likely continue to dominate listening platforms for now, the podcast business model is still changing with a higher demand for new shows and bigger spending on exclusive ones.
Podcasts about news, business, comedy, culture and sports are causing significant ad revenue and growth in listeners. The podcast industry is expected to reach a total of $1 billion this year and its spending will exceed $2 billion by 2023. Along with that, Spotify, the most popular podcast platform, is projected to reach 28.2 million US monthly listeners — surpassing the 28.0 million monthly listeners on Apple Podcasts.
Franks emphasized how the shift in content on Spotify has contributed to the industry’s growth, “For a platform like Spotify, who already had a huge market shares for people listening to music on their mobile devices, to then put such effort into featuring podcasts and expose all their existing users to this new form of audio entertainment, it has been a great contributor.”
It’s no surprise that technology and radio companies continue to expand the content, audio features and formats for listeners throughout the two decades that podcasts have been around. “Apple has been on board since the early days and is putting an increased focus on the medium,” Franks said. The term “podcasting” actually comes from Apple’s popular iPod services from over ten years ago, which is why the company has had a head start in the industry.
However, the real competition is with radio stations that offer consumers music, news, weather and traffic content as well. “Traditional radio networks like iHeart Radio dedicating resources such as broadcast radio time to airing podcasts or running commercials across their network for them, is playing a big role in spreading the word overall.” The focus for main companies like Apple and Spotify will be to provide an even bigger variety of content with or without ads to all its subscribers to continue growing in revenue and listeners.
As investments for shows increase and new forms of content pop up, “The key to continued growth for the industry is collaboration,” said Franks. “That’s collaboration between independent shows to help each other grow, all the way to large networks and listening platforms doing things that will help the industry as a whole and lead to the greater good.”
Franks further believes that it has never been easier for new entrepreneurial creators to launch their first podcast show on the many easy-to-use platforms out there, “Gone are the days of having to know coding, or using clunky software to try and record, edit, and publish your first show.”
The Podcast Movement first started in 2014 as a small gathering of online friends looking to discover more about the world of podcasting together — but later turned into an international outlet of connection for new podcasters, industry professionals and hundreds of companies. The Podcast Movement has largely contributed to the growth of the podcast industry, by welcoming thousands of podcasters from around the world to their annual conference.
The conference also evolved into a media and education company that provides resources. He encourages people to join their Facebook group — the largest one for podcasters in the world — where nearly 70,000 podcasters around the world seek advice on how to get started and grow each other’s skills as podcasters. Franks told Eat News that he is proud of the community of podcasters who take part and get year-round value from each other worldwide.
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