Podcast Statistics - Featured Image
By Milos Djordjevic | March 8, 2021 | 0 Comments

31 Podcast Statistics to Explain the Format’s Popularity in 2021

Podcasting has been around for more than two decades, but it was a niche phenomenon for most of that period. It wasn’t until the rise of smartphones and wireless internet that podcasts became widely popular with people worldwide.

According to podcast statistics, 2020 was the industry’s most successful year.

Despite the global pandemic, numerous new shows were launched, more and more people began listening to podcasts, and thousands of advertisers started buying ad time on popular shows.

Here we’ll discuss the latest industry trends, examine who listens to podcasts and how, and shed light on this media format’s growing popularity.

Top Podcast Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • 104 million Americans listened to podcasts at least once a month in 2020.
  • The Joe Rogan Experience is the most popular podcast worldwide.
  • Most Americans listen to podcasts on Spotify.
  • There are currently more than 850,000 ongoing podcasts.
  • More than 885,000 new podcasts were launched in 2020.
  • The total ad revenue for podcasts was up by 14.7% in 2020.
  • Men and women listen to podcasts equally.
  • Almost half of US podcast fans don’t listen to entire episodes.

Podcast Trends in 2020

1. 75% of US adults are aware of the term “podcasting.”

(Statista)

According to a 2020 survey, 3 in 4 Americans know what “podcasting” means. This number is up from 70% in 2019, indicating that many people have become more familiar with podcasts during their time in lockdown.

Podcast awareness in the US has been rising steadily since 2015, podcasting statistics show. The percentage of people who have heard of podcasts has grown by a staggering 240% since 2006. Back then, only 22% of American adults knew what the term meant.

2. 104 million Americans listened to podcasts at least once a month in 2020.

(Edison Research)

Based on monthly listener numbers in 2020, the US podcasting industry had its best year yet.

A recent study shows that 37% of Americans listened to podcasts at least once a month, up by almost 16% year-over-year. In 2020, more than half of US adults (55%) said they’ve listened to at least one podcast in their life, an impressive rise from just 11% who said the same in 2011.

3. 24% of US consumers listened to podcasts every week in 2020.

(Edison Research)

The weekly podcast listenership in the US also reached an all-time high in 2020.

An estimated 68 million (24%) of Americans aged 12 and over listened to podcasts at least once a week, up from 62.3 million (22%) weekly listeners a year earlier. On average, these people spent 6 hours and 39 minutes per week listening to podcasts, up by 2.5% from 2019.

4. Most weekly podcast listeners regularly follow two or more shows.

(Edison Research)

In 2020, 21% of weekly listeners regularly followed two podcasts, statistics reveal. Another 19% listened to three, while a further 19% listened to four or five shows a week.

A whopping 18% said they regularly followed anywhere between 6 and 10 shows a week, and 12% said they listened to 11 or 12 different podcasts weekly. Just 11% of weekly podcast listeners in the US said they regularly followed only one show.

5. The Joe Rogan Experience topped the list of most listened to podcasts in 2020.

(Edison Research)

Despite switching platforms and becoming a Spotify exclusive, The Joe Rogan Experience remained the most popular show among US adults. An Edison Research survey put The Daily in second place. Produced by The New York Times, this weekday podcast covers current affairs and major events. With all that went on in 2020, its popularity comes as no surprise.

Looking at podcast popularity statistics, the list mostly comprises true crime shows like Crime Junkie (#3) and My Favorite Murder (#5). Other highly ranked podcasts include This American Life (#4), Stuff You Should Now (#6), Office Ladies (#7), and Pod Save America (#8). Two NPR shows — Planet Money (#9) and Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! (#10) — round out the top 10.

6. Comedy was the most popular podcast genre in 2020.

(Statista)

With the COVID-19 pandemic becoming the main conversation topic in 2020, podcast listener statistics show that most of them (22%) searched for relief in comedy shows. News podcasts were in a close second, with 21% of listeners saying they followed them regularly.

Although very well-distributed among the top 50 most popular shows, true crime only ranked as the third most popular genre overall at 18%. Podcasts in the sports and health and fitness genres tied for fourth place with 17% each, while religion and politics (16% each) ranked fifth.

7. iHeartRadio was the most successful publisher in 2020, podcast stats reveal.

(Statista)

Shows like Atlanta Monster, BrainStuff, and Bobbycast have helped iHeartRadio accumulate 27.81 million monthly listeners and become the most successful podcast publisher in 2020.

NPR ranks second with 25.18 million monthly listeners, while The New York Times is in a distant third with 11.48 million unique listeners per month.

8. In 2020, the majority of Americans listened to podcasts on Spotify.

(Statista)

Based on the average number of podcast listeners, Spotify was by far the leading platform in 2020. A respectable 31% of all US podcast listeners followed, downloaded, and listened to their favorite shows on Spotify’s desktop and mobile apps.

Once the leading podcast provider, Apple Podcasts fell to second place. According to Apple podcast statistics, 22% of US listeners chose it as their go-to podcast platform. Despite being the most successful podcast producer, iHeartRadio isn’t as popular as a provider. Only 11% of American listeners used its podcast platform, putting it in fourth place behind Pandora (13%).

Podcast Growth Statistics

9. There are currently more than 850,000 ongoing podcasts.

(PR Daily, Fast Company)

Between all these shows, there are more than 30 million podcast episodes in many languages available online. Comparing this data with the official Apple podcast stats from 2018, the number of active podcasts in 2020 grew by a staggering 61.9% from 525,000 two years earlier. Similarly, the number of total episodes available increased by 62.2% from 18.5 million in 2018.

10. Podcast downloads in 2020 have increased by 180% year-over-year.

(Digiday, Chartable)

Despite a minor drop in downloads at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers quickly returned to their pre-pandemic levels. According to the media monitoring agency Chartable, the average podcast downloads in June 2020 stood at 825 million.

By the end of the year, the agency reported that monthly downloads had gone up to 1.2 billion. This number only refers to the representative sample of 13,000 podcasts tracked by Chartable. As such, the actual podcast download numbers for all currently active shows are much higher.

11. The number of listeners saw triple-digit increases across the globe in 2020.

(Chartable)

The US listenership grew by 190% year-over-year, but other markets saw even bigger growth.

With a 520% increase from 2019, Turkey led the gains in podcast listeners, statistics show. Other countries with significant listener growths include Italy (470%), Peru (380%), China (330%), Bangladesh (330%), and Colombia (320%).

12. Experts predict the US podcast audience will double by 2023.

(Nielsen)

According to podcast audience statistics, the number of US listeners has been growing at a compound annual rate of 20% since 2014. With the increasing popularity of the format taken into account, experts predict that the number of people who listen to podcasts with at least some regularity could rise by up to 100% over the next three years.

13. More than 885,000 new podcasts were launched in 2020.

(Chartable)

On average, there were 17,000 newly launched podcasts every week in 2020. Overall, the number of new shows was 178% higher than in 2019, a remarkable yearly podcast growth.

As for their content, most of these new podcasts were educational, while a significant number fell into the society and culture categories. Not all these podcasts stuck around past the premiere episode, though — many of them were short-lived, and some were one-and-done.

14. The total ad revenue for podcasts was up by 14.7% in 2020.

(Interactive Advertising Bureau)

Although most media outlets experienced drops in ad revenue due to the global pandemic, podcasts weren’t among them. Podcast advertising statistics from 2020 point to a nearly 15% increase in ad dollars year-over-year, approaching $800 million. While the growth was far below the originally projected 29.6%, it shows that advertisers still see great potential in the format.

15. More than 3,000 brands started advertising on podcasts in 2020.

(Magellan AI)

According to 2020 US podcast analytics, the average number of new advertisers per week was 160. These included both small businesses and large companies like Amazon and Disney.

The number of ads for financial and insurance companies saw the largest year-over-year increases — 72% and 83%, respectively. As 2020 was an election year, the number of political advertisements also went up by a staggering 1,000%, podcast stats reveal. Comedy podcasts had by far the most advertisers, followed closely by news-themed podcasts.

16. By 2024, the podcast advertising revenue could exceed $1.6 billion.

(Statista)

Despite the pandemic-related slowdown in 2020, experts are optimistic about the future of podcasts. The latest podcasting market research reveals that the industry’s ad revenue could grow by more than 40% in 2021, surpassing $1.1 billion for the first time.

The growth won’t be as impressive in 2022. Still, with a projected increase of 17.5% between 2021 and 2022, the total podcast industry ad revenue could reach $1.3 billion by then. The revenue will continue growing in the following two years, only to exceed $1.6 billion in 2024.

Podcast Statistics - Microphone

Podcast Demographics

17. Men and women listen to podcasts equally.

(Edison Research)

Looking at the gender breakdown of monthly podcast listeners in the US, women and men are almost equally distributed. Namely, 51% of listeners are male, while 49% are female.

As for the entire US population, 39% of all men and 36% of all women listened to podcasts at least once a month in 2020, podcast statistics show. Compared to 2019, this is an increase of 3 percentage points among US males and 7 percentage points among females.

18. Almost half of all US podcast listeners are aged 12–34.

(Edison Research)

Young people between the ages of 12 and 34 make up 48% of all monthly US podcast listeners. Podcast download statistics by age reveal that listeners in the 35–54 bracket account for 32% of the audience, while those aged 55 and over make up the remaining 20% of the listenership.

19. An overwhelming majority of podcast listeners are white.

(Edison Research)

According to ethnicity-focused podcast research from 2020, 63% of all US podcast listeners are white. Blacks and Hispanics each hold an 11% share of the total audience, Asian Americans make up 5%, and other ethnic groups combined make up the remaining 9% of US listeners.

20. 80% of US podcast listeners are at least college-educated.

(Edison Research)

The US podcast listenership is very highly educated, statistics show.

While 27% have graduated from college, 25% have a bachelor’s degree, and an impressive 28% have completed grad school or obtained some other advanced degree. Listeners with high school education or less make up the remaining 20% of the monthly audience.

21. Most podcast listeners are employed and have above-average annual income.

(Edison Research)

More than two-thirds (68%) of podcast listeners are employed — 51% have full-time jobs, and 17% are part-time employees. Their annual household income is above-average, but it varies.

According to demographic podcast stats, 41% of US listeners earn more than $75,000 a year. Of this number, 12% have an income in the $75,000–$100,000 range, 17% earn between $100,000 and $150,000, while 12% make more than $150,000 a year.

22. 74% of Americans listen to podcasts to learn something new.

(Statista)

The quest for knowledge is the main reason why Americans listen to podcasts, while 71% see them as a form of entertainment. Additionally, 60% regularly listen to podcasts to stay updated on all the latest news. With this in mind, it’s no surprise news-oriented shows discussing current affairs and major news stories dominated the list of the most successful podcasts in 2020.

23. 22% of US adults rely on podcasts as a news source.

(Pew Research Center)

When asked about their preferred news sources, 22% of Americans said they get the latest information from podcasts. While 16% only do this sometimes, 6% do so regularly.

News podcast statistics show that 12% of people aged 18–29 listen to podcasts for news. The percentage is lower but by no means insignificant in other age groups — 8% of Americans in the 30–49, 4% in the 50–64, and 3% in the over-65 bracket get their information from podcasts.

24. More than half of all US millennials get their news from podcasts.

(Statista)

Millennials are the biggest podcast listeners in the US, and 55% of them admit to learning about the latest events from their favorite shows.

Of this number, 8% get their news from podcasts daily, 10% do it a few times a week, and 8% do so weekly. Another 8% listen to podcasts for information a few times a month, 10% do so once a month, and the remaining 11% do it seldom — i.e., less than once a month.

25. 90% of Americans listen to podcasts at home.

(Edison Research)

The majority of US podcast audiences prefer listening to their favorite shows at home.

Further podcast research of the audience’s listening habits found that 64% also listen to shows in their car, 49% do so while hiking or jogging, 43% when working out, and 37% while riding public transport. Interestingly, 37% said they sometimes listen to podcasts at work.

26. Almost half of US podcast audiences don’t listen to entire episodes.

(Edison Research)

While 41% of podcast fans say they listen to most of any given episode, 5% say they listen to about half of it, and 2% only listen to the first few minutes. On the other hand, 51% of the US audiences say they always listen to podcast episodes in their entirety.

27. Speeding up shows is popular with 26% of podcast listeners, statistics show.

(Edison Research)

With so much content available, frequent listeners are trying to cram in as many podcasts as possible in a single day. To achieve this, 26% of them listen to episodes at increased speed to finish them faster. Just 19% of listeners did this in 2018, indicating that this is a growing trend.

28. Individual podcast episodes have gotten shorter over the years.

(Pacific Content)

Recent research shows that the average podcast length currently hovers around 40 minutes, and the median length is just over 36 minutes per episode. The averages also vary based on category. For example, the average length of a show covering daily news is around 10 minutes, while an average comedy show releases 50-minute-long episodes.

Of course, many podcasts release much longer episodes. The best example is The Joe Rogan Experience, one of the most popular podcasts worldwide. Covering topics ranging from current affairs and celebrity culture to mixed martial arts and conspiracy theories, the show’s episodes run anywhere from two to four hours — and sometimes even longer.

More Interesting Podcast Facts

29. Spotify has invested more than $600 million in its podcast library as of 2020.

(Music Business Worldwide, The Wrap)

The largest music streaming company in the world has made serious steps to establish the lead in the podcasting market. In 2019, Spotify bought the podcast creation platform Anchor FM for $154 million. Shortly afterward, it acquired Gimlet Media, the producer of the popular Reply All podcast, for $195 million. Other major acquisitions included the paranormal-themed podcast producer Paracast ($55 million) and sports podcast The Ringer (close to $200 million).

Another huge acquisition came in mid-2020 when the company bought the exclusive streaming rights to The Joe Rogan Experience. According to insiders, the deal was worth $100 million.

Spotify podcast stats for 2020 suggest that the company made the right move. In the first 11 months of the year, the famous comedian’s podcast was the most downloaded show on the platform, ahead of The Daily and The Michelle Obama Podcast, another Spotify original.

30. The Joe Rogan Experience also tops the list of the highestearning podcasts.

(Music Business Worldwide, Statista)

Besides consistently dominating the download charts for the last few years, Joe Rogan’s podcast also attracts the most advertisers.

Even before Spotify bought the exclusive rights to the show, The Joe Rogan Experience led the topearning podcasts list with ad revenue of $30 million in 2019 alone. With the 2020 Spotify deal taken into account, not only is it still the highest-earning show around, but Rogan is also one of the highest-paid media personalities.

31. China could soon become the world’s biggest podcast market.

(Reuters Institute, Podnews)

For a while, South Korea has had the highest percentage of podcast listeners of all countries. But according to recent podcast analytics, China could soon take over the top position.

Podcasting is a relatively new phenomenon in the country, but already 50.5% of people in China say they listen to podcasts every day. Most listen on their phone while riding public transport (53.9%), and Apple Podcasts is their preferred platform. Local podcast demographics also show that a staggering 86.4% of the Chinese podcast listeners hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

Final Thoughts

Although 2020 has been a rough year for most media, podcasts managed to come out on top.

In what was their biggest year yet, podcasts succeeded in growing their audiences, increasing their relevance, and attracting more advertisers. And the podcasting industry hasn’t yet peaked. Experts predict that the listenership and revenue will keep rising for at least the next few years.

Major music streaming platforms have also started acquiring smaller production companies and investing in their exclusive podcast offerings. As the battle for dominance in the crowded streaming market continues, we’ll likely see more of this in 2021.

FAQ

How many podcasts are there?

According to the latest data, there are more than 850,000 ongoing podcasts at the moment. Combined, they have released 30 million episodes and counting. Compared to statistics from just two years ago, the number of shows is up by 61.9%, and the episode count is 62.2% higher.

How many people listen to podcasts?

About 104 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly, while 68 million listen to at least one show every week. The total number of US listeners went up by 190% between 2019 and 2020.

Podcasts are on the rise throughout the world.

Turkey had year-over-year growth of 520%, the Italian podcast audience went up by 470%, and Peru saw an increase of 380% in the number of podcast listeners in 2020. Although China is still relatively new to podcasting, 50.5% of people there say they listen to podcasts every day.

Who listens to podcasts?

Women and men in the US listen to podcasts equally — 51% of the audience is male, and 49% is female. Most podcast listeners (48%) nationwide fall into the 12–34 age bracket, another 32% are in the 35-54 group, while the remaining 20% are aged 55 and over.

In terms of race, 63% of podcast listeners are white, 11% Black, 11% Hispanic, and 5% are Asian American. All other ethnic groups make up the remaining 9% of the total listenership.

Where do people listen to podcasts?

Most Americans (90%) listen to podcasts at home, and a large percentage (64%) say they also listen while driving. Just under half (49%) say they listen to podcasts while exercising outdoors, 43% do it while working out at home or a gym, and 37% while on public transport. It’s interesting to note that 37% of US podcast fans admit to listening to their favorite shows at work.

How much money do podcasts make?

A podcast’s advertising revenue depends on the number of listeners and downloads it gets.

For example, the average cost of a 30-second promo in February 2021 was $22 per 1,000 listeners. For a 60-second clip, podcasters could earn about $31 per 1,000 listeners. So if a show has 100,000 listeners per episode, it could get $3,100 from just one 60-second ad.

Many niche shows can’t survive on advertising dollars alone, so they create Patreon pages where fans can support them by giving small monthly donations. In exchange, they get early access to episodes or exclusive content unavailable to non-paying listeners.

How many downloads is a successful podcast?

With more than 850,000 podcasts out there, building your audience can prove challenging.

However, statistics show that raking in just 26 downloads within a week of releasing your episode puts you in the top 50% of all shows. To reach the top 1%, you need to have at least 3,062 downloads within the first week. This includes both actual downloads and plays on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other podcast hosting platforms.

What are good podcast stats?

If you’re only starting out in podcasting, you need to give your show time to reach its target audience. Once an episode of your show has been online for 30 days and gotten at least 141 downloads, you’re off to a good start. If you eventually reach 50,000 downloads per episode within 30 days, you’ll join the club comprising only the most successful shows out there.

Of course, ideal podcast statistics depend on the topic and format of your show. If you’re doing a niche podcast, reaching a wider audience can prove problematic. However, as long as you have an avid fan base, you can still monetize your show via Patreon or another similar site.

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