How many podcasts are there? Right now, there are more than 1 million active podcasts and more than 30 million podcast episodes.
According to Apple at WWDC 2018, these numbers stood at 550,000 and 18.5 million respectively. So, the figures are growing rapidly!
We've also designed a custom-illustrated infographic highlighting the most impactful podcasting stats and facts. Feel free to share it or post it on your site if you find it useful!
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We keep this post updated with new stats as and when they become available.
Last updated in: May, 2021
Podcast Statistics - Listenership, Demographics & Growth
Here are arguably the most interesting stats about podcasts from the infographic:
75% of Americans are Familiar with 'Podcasting'
As high as 75% of the US population is 'familiar' with the word 'podcasting'. That's roughly 248 million people.
How Many People Listen to Podcasts?
According to the latest data, 55% of the US population, or approximately 155 million people, have listened to a podcast.
37% Americans are Monthly Podcast Listeners
37% (approx. 104 million people) listen to podcasts at least once a month (though many listen to one podcast or another much more frequently than that).
24% American People Listen to Podcasts Weekly
24% of Americans (approx. 68 million people) are weekly podcast listeners (i.e. listen to podcasts at least once a week).
Podcasting Spans Over 100 Languages Worldwide
Podcasting as a whole has been growing rapidly, and as a media format, it now spans over 100 different languages across the world.
Young People (18-44 Yrs) Make Up 67% of the Podcast Audience
Podcasting is way more popular among young people, with 67% of the total podcasting audience being between 18 to 44 years old.
Podcasts Attract Wealthier & Educated People More
It also attracts the educated and relatively wealthier sections of the society more. In fact, it's 45% more likely for a podcast listener to have a college degree, and 68% more likely to have a post-graduate degree. They are also much more likely to be HNIs (high net-worth individuals), with them having a 45% more likelihood of having a net household income of over $250,000, which is a quarter million dollars, annually!
Podcasting Audience is Amazingly Gender Balanced!
When it comes to gender balance, the podcasting audience is well balanced at the moment, with men leaning ever so slightly on the heavier side of the scale (51% vs. 49% for women, same distribution as the US population).
Smartphones are Most Popular for Consuming Podcasts
Smartphones are the #1 platform for podcast consumption. Given how popular iTunes' podcasts (now known as Apple Podcasts) are, and given the fact that there's a consistent decline in PC and tablet usage due to the rise of smartphones, it's hardly a surprise that smartphones are occupying the number one spot here.
'Society & Culture' is the Most Popular Podcast Genre
'Society & Culture' tends to be the most popular podcasting genre, followed closely by Business, Comedy, News & Politics, and Health.
The Average Listener Listens to 7 Different Shows Per Week
The average podcast listener listens to 7 different shows in an average week, and subscribes to 6 different shows.
Most People Listen to Podcasts at Home
Most people prefer to listen to podcasts at home (49%), while 22% said they also listen while driving. 11% listen while at work and only 4% listen while onboard a public transport vehicle.
80% of Listeners Listen to (Almost) the Entire Episode
When it comes to engagement, 80% of podcast listeners listen to an entire podcast episode or at least most of it. This is one of the best engagement rates, if not the best, among any consumption medium.
Weekly Listeners Spend 6 hrs 39 mins Per Week on Average
Weekly podcast listeners spend an average of 6 hours and 39 minutes listening to podcasts per week.
Regular Podcast Listeners are Less Exposed to TV Ads
Regular podcast listeners are also less exposed to TV advertising, and they're far more likely to be subscribers of online video streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Podcast Ad Revenue Growth is 1,000% in 5 Years!
Podcast ad revenue grew exponentially from 2015 ($69 million) to 2018 ($402 million), with the growth forecast predicting a revenue of $659 million in 2020. That's roughly a jaw-dropping growth of 1,000% in just 5 years!
Podcast Download Numbers - Stats on Downloads
Even the most successful podcast episode got only 50,000 downloads in 30 days. If an episode gets more than 9,000 downloads, it's in the top 5% of the most successful podcasts. It only takes 3,400 downloads to get into top 10%. The average number of downloads in the first 30 days stands at 141.
This makes it evident that even though the most popular podcasts tend to get hundreds of thousands of 'listens', not too many people prefer to download it for offline consumption at a later time. This is not very surprising considering the growth of online streaming and constant availability of the internet.
Podcast Listeners are More Active on Social Media
Compared to the general U.S. population, podcast listeners are more active on social media, with 94% being active on at least one social media platform, vs. 81% for the entire population. They are also much more likely to follow their favorite brands on social media.
And here are the rest of the talking points from the infographic above:
- Out of all podcast listeners who listen to podcasts on their smartphones, 54% are on Apple's iOS ecosystem (i.e. they are iPhone users), and 43% are Android users.
- 19% listeners prefer to speed up the audio while listening to podcast episodes. This indicates that the majority of podcast consumers don't prefer to listen faster.
- Podcast audiences are also more likely to own smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Alexa / Echo, which is an extremely rapidly growing market.
- 69% of the respondents agreed that podcast ads made them aware of new products and services.
- Podcast ads lift the purchase intent for a variety of advertisers across a wide range of niches:
Society & Culture: 9.2% lift
News & Politics: 12.8% lift
Comedy: 7.3% lift
Sports: 9.3% lift
Business: 14% lift
- Podcast ads that were integrated or edited into podcast episodes accounted for 58% of the total number of ads.
- Edison Research (bit.ly/edison-infinite-dial)
- Nielsen (bit.ly/nielsen-podcasting)
- IAB (bit.ly/iab-podcasting)
- PwC (bit.ly/pwc-podcasting)
- Pacific Content (bit.ly/pacific-content)
Now, let's take a look at a few more podcast stats that didn't make it through to the infographic.
- Smartphones are driving podcast consumption by demonstrating an 157% increase in usage for podcast consumption since 2014, compared to marginal increases in case of PCs, tablets, and laptops.
- 35% podcast consumers listen to an entire episode, 45% listen to most of an episode, and only 12% listen to less than half of a podcast episode.
- Podcast listeners spend an average of 6 hours and 39 minutes listening to podcasts every week. 16% listen to less than one hour of podcasts, and 25% listen between 1 to 3 hours of podcast content every week.
- Podcast listeners' share of time spent listening to audio sources: 33% podcasts, 25% FM/AM radio, 15% owned music, 14% streamed music/audio, 5% TV music channels, and 8% others.
- 77% of podcast consumers prefer to click on a podcast and listen immediately. 41% of them prefer to download podcast episodes manually and listen later. 27% of them prefer to subscribe to a podcast to download automatically to listen later.
- 65% of monthly podcast listeners have been listening to podcasts for less than 3 years.
- At 64%, right now more people know what a podcast is than knowing who the vice-president is (40%).
- From 2019 to 2020, total number of monthly podcast listeners grew by 16%, breaching 100 million people for the first time.
- Podcast listeners listen to an average of 7 shows per week, which is up 40% since 2017.
- There are currently more than two million podcasts currently indexed on Google.
- Podcast ad revenue is expected to reach $1.6 billion by 2022.
- 61.2% of podcast listeners spend more time every week listening to podcasts than they do watching TV.
- When it comes to podcast listening platforms, 52% people use Apple Podcasts, 19% Spotify, 4.6% Stitcher, and 21% use other platforms.
Global Podcast Statistics
- South Korea leads the world in the percentage of people who have listened to a podcast in the last month (58%).
- Chile, Argentina, Peru and Mexico are the countries where podcast consumption is growing the fastest. Chile with a podcast growth rate of 85%, Argentina with 55.28%, Peru with 49.1% and Mexico with 47.84%. The presence of a large Spanish speaking population is causing Latino podcasts to flourish in the United States.
- China has the 5th highest podcast consumption growth with 43.62%
- 83% of Australians are aware of podcasts, however only 30% of them have listened to a podcast episode. Among those 30% of people, 22% listen to podcasts monthly, and 15% listen to at least one podcast episode in a week.
- 12% of the UK population (6.5 million people) listen to podcasts weekly, i.e. they listen to at least one podcast episode in a week. Podcasts are most popular with the UK millennials (21%) compared to baby boomers (5%).
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More on Podcasting
- The term 'podcasting' is thought to be an amalgamation of 'iPod' and 'broadcasting'. It was first suggested by Ben Hammersley, a BBC journalist. Some people prefer using the 'backronym' POD for 'portable on demand', to remove the brand-dependency of the term when it was originally coined.
- Podcasting is basically the form of recording and making audio-based 'episodes' available over the internet. These days, most podcasts can be both streamed online and downloaded for listening to it later.
- Unlike what its name suggests (the 'pod' part), podcasts can actually be played across almost any internet-enabled device like smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even desktop computers.
- There are tons of podcast platforms and podcast players, and many of them allow listeners to tweak various things like changing the speed of the podcast episode, for example.
- Podcasts are usually monetized by selling 'ad time' (roughly equivalent to the 'ad space' of print and digital media) to advertisers who are willing to get their brands and messages in front of a highly targeted and engaged podcast audience. Though mostly placed discreetly, some ads are integrated into the episode itself, so that they come off as more relevant.
- Podcast audiences are usually extremely engaged, and according to Panoply, those who do get a chance to 'skip' an ad at the beginning or in the middle of a podcast, generally resume listening to the episode right after they skip the ad. The 'drop off' percentage, so to speak, is very very low compared to other digital mediums offering 'ad skipping', like online videos on platforms like YouTube, for example.
- A 'podcast novel' is a literary format that bridges the gap between podcasts and audiobooks.
- There's a less popular video-driven form of podcasting, known as 'vodcasts'. It's fundamentally the same concept, but utilizes video instead of being audio-only.
- These days, smartphones are by far the #1 platform for consuming podcasts, owing to their portability, and the small form-factor not affecting the quality of media consumption, as podcasting is mostly an audio-only format.
- Just like what happened with blog posts and then infographics in the past, podcasts are quickly becoming a viable alternative channel for content marketing enthusiasts. Very popular brands and identities in marketing and entrepreneurship space like Tim Ferris (author of The Four-Hour Workweek) and Copyblogger (one of the most reputable blogs on copywriting and blogging) have all recently embraced podcasts as a worthy channel for their content marketing efforts.
- It actually doesn't cost much (if any) money to start a podcast, if you don't have an extremely high ceiling of satisfaction. You can literally get started with either the default mic of your smartphone, external lapel mics, or a pair of affordable mic-equipped headphones and start uploading your episodes on a free service like SoundCloud.
- The fact that listening to podcasts mostly doesn't involve 'screen time' is very comforting to some people. It also helps people who have a difficulty with staring at a screen when they're moving in some sort of a transport vehicle.
- Michael Wolf, who is the chief analyst of NextMarket Insights (and a notable podcaster himself), has suggested that podcasting is a much less 'crowded' space in comparison to blogging, and it also comes with a far more 'engaged' audience compared to blog post readers.
- Podcasts offer an opportunity to multi-task while you're listening to your favorite episode. You can listen to them while driving, biking or doing just about anything of which a major portion is accomplished by your reflexes. This is one of the reasons why podcasts are gaining popularity among practitioners of hobbies that require a lot of skill, for example skateboarding, singing and playing musical instruments like guitar, ukulele, piano, or bass.
- For established brands that have explored traditional forms of content marketing for a while, podcasting allows them to reach new audiences, while facing significantly lesser competition to reach them.
- Podcasting can either be a one-man-show, or you can have one or more co-hosts with you. Or, you can also invite guests for your episodes. These days, it's very popular to bring knowledgeable guests from relevant fields on your show. Your audience gets some fresh insights this way, while they get the chance to reach a new audience.
- If you're doing an episode with someone who's not physically present next to you, you can easily do it via something as simple as a Skype call, then record the call, and publish it after editing. For clearer audio, it's recommended to record on both the devices and stitching the recordings together in post-production for resulting in a hiccup-free audio.
- Transcription allows you to convert your podcast audio into text, which you can publish as a blog post along with show notes for a particular podcast episode. What this does is that it results in bonus content, and a LOT of content in comparison to regular blog posts, as podcast episodes tend to cover a lot more stuff in comparison within a relatively short time. This is a tactic that's employed by many smart content marketers these days. You're essentially generating two pieces of content (as the textual content isn't duplicate per se to search engines like Google) while putting in the effort of producing just one.
- Because podcast listeners are very tech-savvy in comparison with the general population, targeting them via ads is relatively less costly, as you don't need to spend on non-targeted mediums of advertising like TV ads, which they're less prone to. You can take advantage of programmatic advertising and target way more relevant users with the help of retargeting and contextual analysis.
- According to a blog post by Buffer, the best schedule for publishing podcast episodes is once per week. It ensures a balance between total reach and engagement. They also mention Tuesday as the most favorable day to publish your podcast episode, with the same two goals in mind.
- If you're ready to invest a little bit up front to ensure a better recording quality, the first thing you should invest on is a quality condenser mic instead of lapel or shotgun mics. The 'Blue Yeti' microphone is probably the most popular USB mic to have ever existed, and it does a pretty good job for recording podcast audio. You can also add a few other bells and whistles if you really want to - like a pop filter and a pair of quality-headphones for podcasting, or even better, studio-grade monitoring headphones.
- For recording multiple people who are present at the same location with a single mic, dynamic mics are a better option than condenser mics.
- As a beginner, if you want to edit your recorded podcast episodes, something simple and free like Garageband (Mac) or Audacity (Windows) will suffice. If you want a premium solution later, you can opt for something like Adobe Audition.