U.S. Podcasting Industry - Statistics & Facts

The term ‘podcast’ is a combination of the words ‘pod’, derived from Apple’s portable media player, the iPod, and 'broadcast'. In 2006, only 22 percent of the adult population in the United States was aware of this phrase, but this figure rose to 64 percent in 2018, thereby highlighting the increasing popularity of podcasting in the United States. In fact, as of 2018, there are an estimated 73 million podcast listeners in the United States, a number which is forecast to grow to around 132 million by 2022. This trend can be further seen by the fact that over a quarter of the population reported to have listened to a podcast in the past month in 2018, a huge increase from the nine percent figure of 2008.

On-the-go listening remains the most popular way of enjoying podcasts. In 2017, 65 percent of podcast listeners used a smartphone, tablet, or portable audio player to listen to a podcast, in comparison to 33 percent who tuned in via a computer. The ability to listen to podcasts whenever and wherever is highly important especially given the fact that over half of users listen to podcasts at places other than their home. Some of the most popular programs used to play podcasts include music programs such as iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, and SoundCloud.

National Public Radio (NPR) is the leading podcast publisher in the United States, with a unique monthly audience of 18.87 million users as of October 2018. Using the reputation and influence from its massive U.S. based following, NPR has also become the leading podcast publisher worldwide, accumulating over 143 million unique streams and downloads in September of 2018. The success of NPR can be attributed mainly to its unique and appealing content; a number of its podcasts, such as NPR Politics Podcast, TED Radio Hour, Planet Money, and Fresh Air rank among the most popular podcasts in the United States.

As the popularity of podcasting grows, so too does the potential for advertising in the industry. Podcasting industry ad revenues grew to over 400 million dollars in 2018, and are expected to approach 660 million by 2020. Companies are being drawn towards podcast advertisements due to their effectiveness. As of 2017, around 38 percent of podcast listeners stated that they have bought a product after listening to an advertisement for it during a podcast. Many podcasters are small-time, independent producers, and although listeners state that they are often disturbed by advertisements, 68 percent state that they wouldn’t mind a couple of extra ads per show if it means their favorite podcasts can continue to be produced.

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