The podcast industry has gone from strength to strength in recent years and is set to be worth approximately $4 billion by 2024; an impressive twofold increase on 2022’s revenue. It’s clear that podcasting is becoming an increasingly important and relevant media source in today’s society, with more and more consumers both aware of podcasting and actively listening. Ultimately, it’s big business, and you need to know about it.
We’ve explored the topic in detail so you don’t have to - here’s all you need to know about podcasting now and in the future.
The now: 6 key stats and facts to be aware of
There are over 2 million podcasts and over 420 million podcast listeners
According to Demand Sage, at the end of 2022, there were approximately 2.4 million podcasts operating globally with 424 million listeners around the world. To offer some perspective, in 2019 it’s thought that only about 600,000 podcasts existed.
Awareness and consumption are increasing globally
When looking at global podcast listening habits, the Digital News Report 2022 released by the Reuters Institute found that 34% of consumers globally listened to at least one podcast in the last month (up by 3% from 2021). This percentage was calculated by looking at the average consumption rate of 20 countries, where users were very familiar with the medium.
Ireland is the biggest consumer of podcasts
Perhaps surprisingly, according to Reuters Int. podcast consumption is highest in Ireland, with 46% of the population having listened to a podcast in the last month. Nordic nations follow closely behind with Sweden in second place at 44% and Norway slightly behind at 42%.
White males are the typical podcast consumer, yet this is diversifying
In terms of gender, we see a slight skew towards male listeners. In the UK, 58% of listeners in 2022 were male, and 42% were female. In the US, we see a similar picture. According to The Infinite Dial, in 2022, 53% of men listened to a podcast in the last month compared to 46% of women. In terms of race, podcast listeners are typically white, yet we’ve seen an increase in Hispanic and black listeners in recent years.
Podcasting is increasingly popular among older audiences
In terms of age, in the US the 62% who have ever listened to a podcast are pretty evenly spread across ages. Yet the number of listeners aged 35+ has significantly increased in recent years. In the UK, listenership skews older. According to the MIDAS 2022 summer survey in the UK, 60% of listeners are over 35, with 38% sitting within the 35-54 age bracket, and 22% are 55 and over.
Podcasts are typically listened to alone, on a mobile device, and while doing other things
According to the MIDAS Summer 22 report, among other sources, listeners typically enjoy podcasts alone (93% in the UK). Interestingly, it’s often done while multi-tasking - many listen while working / studying (33% in the UK) or when travelling (22%) and as such, much podcast listening happens out of the home. It makes sense then that mobile devices are the most used devices for podcast listening (with 73% using mobiles to listen in the UK).
The Future: 5 key trends to watch out for
Increase in advertising
Despite an increasingly volatile economic climate, podcast ad spend is still on the rise, with podcast ad revenue growing at a faster rate than total internet ad revenue (at 72% vs 35%), and revenue expected to exceed $2billion in 2023. Consumers are clearly content with podcasting ads, a recent Nielsen survey finding that 75% of US consumers don’t mind them and 62 % actively consider new products or services when hearing about them via podcast advertising. On top of this, the same survey found that 80% of people listen to most of an episode without skipping ads. It’s clear then that as the industry grows, it’s becoming a more and more attractive platform to advertise on, and we’re likely to see this growth continue in the coming years.
While ad spend continues to increase, we’re starting to see podcasters and podcast platforms turn to additional, more creative strategies to monetise. One such strategy includes developing a subscription service. Luminary, for example, charges users $4.99 a month to access its content and Wondery offers two different subscription types, each with its own benefits. As podcasting continues to boom, we’re likely to see more and more platforms turning to paid-for subscription services to increase profit.
Live podcasting & podcasting events are on the rise
Live streaming of podcasts, particularly video-based podcasts, is becoming increasingly popular. We’re starting to see more and more podcasts recorded and presented on video-based platforms like YouTube, where consumers can not only listen, but watch and interact with the hosts in-real time, fostering a closer relationship between host and listener. On top of this, live in-person podcast recordings and shows are another monetisation strategy we’ve seen take off in recent years, with consumers paying a fee to come and watch the podcast live as it’s recorded or to watch the hosts present their podcast to a live audience, as a show in its own right. In the wake of COVID with live shows back on the agenda, we’re likely to see this trend continue well into 2023.
As competition grows between podcasting platforms and podcasts themselves, exclusive content provides another excellent way to monetise beyond advertising and we’re starting to see much more of this. This might be in the form of a monthly fee to a podcast platform e.g. Wondery, in order to access exclusive shows, or could be in the form of a ‘fan club’, whereby consumers pay a set fee for particular podcast in order to gain access to show-specific exclusive content. My Favourite Murder is a prime example, ‘fan cult members’ access additional content each week as well as video content and a safe place to chat with other like-minded people.
According to data from Mozilla, cross-pollination is one of the most effective ways of increasing listenership and this is absolutely on the rise. We’re starting to see more and more podcasts inviting other hosts onto their shows to chat and promote their own podcasts. My Favourite Murder is again an excellent example - often the show simply airs an episode of another podcast on their channel, or indeed will invite other podcasters (in the same genre) to present their podcast alongside them that week. It’s clear that cross pollination (or cross-promotion) has a massive impact, the Darknet Series, for example, saw an extra 100,000 downloads the month it participated in a cross pollination event. Clearly this is an effective way to increase listenership and we’re likely to see more of this in 2023.
With podcast adoption only set to grow, the opportunities for businesses are huge. As the industry matures, new trends will emerge and we’re likely to see further diversification of audiences and a plethora of more interesting ways to monetise.
With the industry currently so dynamic and indeed lucrative, it will be interesting to see where it goes next…