Whether it is health, fitness, true crime, politics, or culture- chances are that there are already existing podcasts covering these and many more topics. Podcasts are a relatively new audio format, which has recently gained vast popularity. The word podcast, first mentioned in 2004, is believed to be either created by the combination of the words “Ipod” and “broadcast” or of “Portable on demand (pod)” and “broadcast” and describes an episodic series of spoken word audio files - available for downloads or streaming. In the U.S., the most popular genres are comedy, news, and true crime. So much so, that the highest earning podcasts in the country in 2019 were the Joe Rogan Experience, by the comedian of the same name, and My Favorite Murder, a true crime podcast hosted by the American comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.
Popular podcast platforms and publishers
The publishing of podcasts is not only limited to streaming services focusing specifically on podcasts content like Stitcher, who made 72.55 U.S. dollars in revenue in 2019. For example, the most popular podcast publishers in the U.S. are, IHeartRadio with about 266 million unique streams and downloads, followed by NPR with downloads also surpassing 200 million. The way of consuming knowledge and entertainment in this episodic form reached new popularity in recent years with audio consumption moving increasingly towards the digital format- a trend that accelerated with the demand for easily accessible at home entertainment during to the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, other tech and streaming giants also decided to take a dip in the podcasting pond. And so, Spotify, for instance, has recently spent 600 million U.S. dollars on podcast-related acquisitions; even Amazon announced that it will also heavily invest in this medium.
Podcasts popularity decreasing with age
The growing interest in the medium is mirrored in the global number of podcast listeners, which has reached a new high in 2020 at 485 million consumers worldwide. While this is already showing the expansion of the podcast market, the number of listeners is estimated to increase further to over 800 million users in 2025. However, there is still room to grow as the global intensity of podcast consumption is relatively low, with a range from only one to five percent of respondents admitting to frequent indulgence in podcasts. Norway is leading in that regard, with the U.S. and the UK following suit. It is also worth noting that podcasts are especially in demand among the younger age groups. For example, in the United States, 44 percent of respondents aged 26 to 35 said that they listened to podcasts while the same was true for only 22 percent of podcast users over the age of 56. Similar developments can be observed in several other countries such as Canada, Germany, or the United Kingdom.
Overall, the format of podcasts is likely to develop into a crucial part of the audio world. With increasing numbers of podcast consumers, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and a generational change, the next few years will show how podcasts can establish itself as a standard format of audio entertainment and therefore a major revenue source for publishers and advertisers alike.
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