Skip to content

How Many Podcasts Are There in the World in 2023?

How Many Podcasts Are There in the World in 2023? A Deep Dive into Podcasting‘s Explosive Growth

Introduction: From Hobbyistorigins to a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry

Podcasting has experienced meteoric growth from niche hobbyist origins in the early 2000s to a professional mainstream industry generating billions in revenue today. At the start, podcasting required complex software and equipment only accessible to tech enthusiasts. But thanks to smartphones and apps that put podcasts in every pocket, nearly anyone can now not just listen to but also create podcasts easily.

Let‘s explore the phenomenal rise of podcasting and just how many podcast shows exist across the globe as of 2023. The explosion of both podcast creators and listeners has led to an incredibly diverse tapestry of audio content.

The Total Number of Podcasts Is Likely Between 5 Million to 6 Million

Estimates suggest there are now over 5 million podcasts worldwide. However, the total number is likely even higher. Many hobbyist or defunct shows are not officially counted, and more are created every day. Considering inactive podcasts, the total global count probably stands between 5 and 6 million podcast programs as of early 2023.

For perspective, just five years ago in 2018, there were around 550,000 podcasts. The extraordinary decade-long rise represents over 800% growth in total podcasts. Based on this trajectory, expect the 6 million threshold to be crossed very soon if not already.

Apple Podcasts: The Largest Central Repository with Over 1.5 Million Podcast Series

Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes Podcasts) remains one of the most important aggregators and distributors in the ecosystem. As of 2022, Apple Podcasts houses over 1.5 million active series and over 43 million episodes in more than 100 languages.

After crossing 1 million podcasts for the first time in 2019, the platform saw accelerated growth throughout the pandemic. Over 150,000 new programs launched in 2021 alone. While not every podcast chooses to list their RSS feed on Apple, it remains the top destination to discover new shows.

Spotify‘s Catalog Skyrockets to Over 3.6 Million Podcast Titles Since 2019

When Spotify entered the podcast game in 2019, it invested heavily in content and technology to drive the medium into the mainstream. Thanks to acquisitions, exclusive licensing deals, and billions invested into its podcasting division, Spotify has quickly become a dominant force.

As of January 2023, Spotify boasted an absolutely massive catalog of over 3.6 million podcast shows. The count increases by over 8,000 new podcasts every single day on average. This blistering growth rate showcases how Spotify provides a global platform for podcasters to reach audiences of every size.

48,000 New Podcasts Added in Q3 of 2022: Yearly Growth Is Massive

The third quarter of 2022 saw over 48,000 podcasts added to RSS feeds. Podcast Insights estimates there are over 3 million RSS-registered active podcast series as of 2022. With over 48,000 added in just three months, we can estimate around 200,000 new podcasts launched worldwide last year.

If we go back to 2017, just 54,000 new podcasts debuted that entire year. The 10x growth exemplifies the democratization of broadcasting that allows anyone to share their voice. While Apple and Spotify host millions, RSS provides universal infrastructure for the medium.

The Monthly Podcast Listener Base in the U.S. Alone Tops 117 Million

Driving podcasting‘s astronomical rise is a ballooning listener base discovering this new form of entertainment and education. Edison Research‘s annual survey found 117 million Americans aged 12+ now listen to podcasts every month as of 2022.

For comparison, just 14% of Americans listened monthly in 2008. But thanks to smartphones and discoverability, over a third of Americans now incorporate podcasts into their routines. Overall, over 90 million U.S. adults tune into podcasts every week.

Comedy Reigns Supreme With Over 25% of Podcast Listens

While podcast variety today seems endless, certain genres dominate in popularity. According to Nielsen, comedy commands over a quarter of all podcast listening at 28% as of mid-2022. No other genre comes close in share of voice.

News and politics pods come second with 17% share, highlighting people‘s desire to stay informed. True crime follows at 7%, speaking to humanity‘s morbid curiosity. Other top genres include sports, health/fitness and arts. But from gaming to gardening, all interests are served.

The Long Tail: Niche Pods Make Up The Vast Majority

While major shows drive most listens, they represent just a tiny fraction of all podcasts. The top 1% of podcasts generate over half of all downloads and listens. At the same time, over half of all podcasts generate less than 1,000 monthly downloads.

This power law distribution resembles other digital content. A "long tail" of niche podcasts cater to every possible special interest. There are pods for narrow hobbies and fandoms that could never exist previously without the internet.

Thanks to this long tail, podcasts provide an intimate experience different from traditional media. Listeners love discovering niche programs that seem tailor-made just for them based on their passions.

Ad Revenue Projected to Top $2 Billion in 2023 Highlighting Money-Making Potential

Not only are podcasts a creative outlet, but they can also generate considerable income directly or indirectly. Podcast advertising spending has ballooned right alongside industry growth. PwC estimates podcast ad revenue will top $2 billion in 2023 in the U.S. alone, with some predicting $3 billion.

Besides ads, popular podcasts leverage sponsorships, affiliate marketing, events and merch. Patreon enables fans to donate to their favorite shows. Some podcasts successfully build subscriber models through platforms like Supercast.

Even smaller podcasts can monetize through ads, affiliate marketing and fan support. While making big money is rare, podcasts can drive other revenues for creators and businesses. The potential to turn content into cash inspires continued growth.

Emerging Trends: Exclusives, Integrations and Interactive Elements

Some emerging podcasting trends to watch are greater platform exclusives, cross-promotions between shows, serialized narratives, and interactive elements.

Platforms like Spotify are investing in exclusive deals with top creators for their own ecosystems. More shows are crossing over via guest appearances and episodic integrations. Scripted fiction podcasts are on the rise. Podcasts are also integrating interactive elements like polls, social media, and audience Q&A.

While podcasting first grew organically, unprecedented investment is professionalizing the space. But still, anyone worldwide can launch a show if they have a compelling idea and things to say.

The Future: Over 6 Million Podcasts Likely in 2023 and Counting

Given the low barriers to entry and insatiable listener demand, global podcast counts will continue rising. We will likely cross 6 million total shows in 2023. The exact number is hard to pinpoint due to hobbyists and one-off podcasts. But unambiguously, podcasting‘s adoption will increase in all corners of the world.

Tech developments continue to shape podcasting‘s future. Better analytics, distribution platforms, and monetization tools empower podcasters while machine learning and AI enhance discovery. As costs drop and tech improves, more voices will be heard.

But behind the tidal wave of podcast launches lies human connections. In an increasingly noisy world, podcasts let us tune into voices we relate to, trust and cherish. We crave community, no matter how niche. With over 6 million podcasts as of 2023 and infinite possibilities ahead, the golden age of audio connects us all.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.