Podcasting has revolutionized audio entertainment and redefined how people discover and consume content. But just how big has this medium become? What key data reveals the rising relevance of podcasts in 2023?
As a podcasting enthusiast myself, I decided to dig into the numbers. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll highlight 10+ podcast statistics that uncover key trends, opportunities and the overall state of podcasting this year. Beyond the headlines, I‘ll provide context, analysis and expert insights on what the stats signify.
Let‘s dive in and explore the key facts and figures powering the dynamic world of podcasts in 2023!
4.1 Million Podcasts and Counting
The choice of podcasts to start listening to is virtually endless today. Per hosting platform Podcast Insights, there were over 4.1 million podcasts available globally as of January 2023. This marks stunning growth from just 550,000 shows in 2018 – a mammoth 645% increase in 5 years!
Apple Podcasts, one of the largest podcast directories, now hosts over 2.5 million podcasts. This is up 7.8% from 2.3 million in September 2021. However, only 17.7% of Apple Podcasts are considered "active" based on releasing new episodes in the past 30 days.
Across platforms, the total number of podcasts has exploded. But while quantity has risen exponentially, quality remains a concern. "There is still lots and lots of room for improvement in average podcast production value," notes Michelle Garretti, Executive Producer of the ‘Becoming MILF‘ podcast.
Nevertheless, the breadth of content now available is staggering. From niche hobby topics to big budget brand productions, podcast fans can immerse themselves in audio shows on virtually any subject imaginable.
465 Million Global Listeners and Rising
In line with supply, the monthly global audience for podcasts has also expanded rapidly. There were around 465 million monthly podcast listeners worldwide in 2023 according to Statista forecasts. This is up 9.7% from 424 million last year and more than quadruple the 104 million listeners in 2014.
Monthly Global Podcast Listeners (Millions)
This growth is predicted to continue with over 504 million anticipated listeners by 2024. What‘s driving this appetite for podcasts worldwide?
"Podcasts allow people to turn ‘dead time‘ into value-added time," explains Sky Pinnick, Chief Content Officer at PodcastOne. "The ease of building content consumption into your daily routine is driving adoption."
Whether commuting, exercising or doing chores, podcasts make mundane activities more engaging. As discovery improves, regional penetration expands too. For example, South Korea‘s monthly podcast listenership leapt from 3.9 million in 2018 to 13.3% of the population in 2022.
50% of UK Internet Users Tune into Podcasts
Zooming in on the United Kingdom, Ofcom research found that in 2021, 50% of all internet users listened to podcasts. Out of these, around half (51%) are regular weekly podcast listeners.
Podcast audiences skew relatively young in the UK too. 58% of monthly listeners are aged between 15-34 years old, a coveted demographic for many brands. Comedy emerges as the most enjoyed genre by this group, with sports, music, news, hobbies, education and health also ranking highly.
"There is an intimacy podcasts create between host and listener that provides a nuanced opportunity for brands to make authentic connections," says Zack Boone, Co-Founder of the Punch Up The Jam podcast.
The 20-40 Minute Sweet Spot
When it comes to ideal podcast length, the data shows 20-40 minutes is the sweet spot. Per production company Pacific Content, 31% of all episodes are 20-40 minutes in duration, followed by 22% that run 40-60 minutes. Short form under 20 minutes represents 29% of shows, while longer podcasts over 60 minutes round off at 17%.
|Episode Length||% of Total|
|< 10 minutes||15%|
|10 – 20 minutes||14%|
|20 – 40 minutes||31%|
|40 – 60 minutes||22%|
|> 60 minutes||17%|
This preference for 20-40 minutes makes sense – it‘s enough time to inform or entertain, but short enough to hold attention on the go. However, optimal length ultimately depends on the podcast format and goals. "We see larger audience dropoff after 45 minutes. So we tailor episode length to maximize engagement," notes Owen Grover, co-host of The Political Orphanage podcast.
Comedy Most Popular Genre in the US
When American listeners were surveyed in 2020 about their favorite podcast genres, comedy ranked #1 as per Statista. 22% named it as their most enjoyed category, indicating the universal appeal of humor.
Other popular podcast genres included:
- News – 21%
- True crime – 18%
- Sports – 17%
- Health/fitness – 17%
Additional niches like business, politics, arts, lifestyle etc. also have strong followings. But evergreen topics continue to do well. "Comedy podcasts thrive with both on-demand and appointment listening habits," remarks Chuck Anderson, Producer of The Daily Zeitgeist.
Joe Rogan Leads US Podcast Charts
When it comes to top podcasts, "The Joe Rogan Experience" continues to dominate US charts on Spotify and Apple in early 2023. Mixing long form interviews, news and comedy, the show appeals to listeners across demographics.
Other top 10 podcasts on US Spotify reflect a blend of celebrity hosts, storytelling and conversational formats. These include:
- The Deck Investigates – True crime from Audiochuck
- Huberman Lab – Health advice from neuroscientist Andrew Huberman
- The Girl in the Blue Mustang – Investigative series from NBC News
- Call Her Daddy – Sex and dating hosted by Alex Cooper
- This Past Weekend – Comedian Theo Von’s commentary
- Distractible – Comedy trio Mark Rober, Bob Muyskens and Wade Randolph
- Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain – Gen Z star‘s casual chats
- Crime Junkie – True crime analysis by Audiochuck
- Armchair Expert – Celebrity interviews with Dax Shepard
Many shows manage to stay on top for extended periods, indicating the value of consistency, quality and audience loyalty over time.
47% of US Listeners are Under 35
In the US, podcasts overindex among younger listeners. Per Cumulus Media, 47% of weekly podcast listeners are aged between 12-34 years old. This presents a prime opportunity for brands targeting Millennial and Gen Z segments.
In addition, 30% of US podcast listeners have a college degree and 41% earn over $75,000 in annual income. The audience skews smarter, richer and more influential compared to average Americans.
"These are valuable consumers – educated, early adopters and cultural influencers. We craft show messaging to resonate with their values," remarks Laura Chamberlin, Co-Host of Relationsh*t podcast.
Apple Podcasts Leads Among US Platforms
Despite Spotify‘s recent growth, Apple Podcasts still enjoys a strong #1 position with US listeners as of early 2023. Per Edison Research, 38.6% of surveyed monthly listeners used Apple Podcasts in 2022, ahead of Spotify‘s 26.7% share.
Other major platforms like Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and Stitcher account for smaller but growing listener bases. With more people accessing podcasts across 2-3 apps, multi-platform distribution is key.
"We ensure availability across all major platforms and optimize content for each," says Laurie Taylor, Producer of the Myths, Legends & Fairytales Podcast. "This ubiquity helps build audience awareness."
Context Drives Listening Behavior
Where and when are Americans tuning into podcasts? Edison Research indicates 33% listen while relaxing at home. But contexts like commuting (22%), exercising (11%) and doing household chores (10%) also rated highly.
Many turn to podcasts as an enhancement for everyday activities that otherwise feel repetitive or isolating. The car/commute usage case maintains relevance with podcasting‘s broadcast radio roots.
"We still see driving as a primary listening occasion for our audience," observes Molly Brandenburger, CEO of FireSide Media. "But workplace and home listening are definitely on the rise."
Ad Revenue and Spend Set to Triple
As interest in podcasts expands, advertising revenues have snowballed from $479 million in 2018 to over $1.6 billion in 2022 (Interactive Advertising Bureau). Furthermore, the IAB predicts this could triple to over $3 billion by 2024.
Currently D2C brands drive over a third of spend, but financial services, tech and pharma also dedicate growing portions of budget. Median podcast CPM rates now exceed $20, surpassing video and other digital ads.
"Podcast ads drive measurable direct-response for clients provided they align with content," says Mick Littlefield, Head of Advertising at Stir Crazy Media. "Results prove it‘s not just ‘background noise‘."
Still Room for More Growth Ahead
Has podcasting peaked? Experts suggest not yet. Per Edison Research, 78% of weekly listeners consume most or all episodes of favorite shows, indicating strong engagement. As content diversity expands, more niche, underserved audiences await discovery.
Plus only 43% of US adults are familiar with the term "podcasting", indicating gaps in awareness. "I see so much potential to educate more people globally on podcasts as a free accessible medium," remarks podcaster Tricia Bobeda (Quiet Justice).
In summary, while red hot growth has stabilized, the fundamentals of podcasting remain robust. For listeners, creators and advertisers alike, the stage is set for even more game-changing moments ahead.
So what does the future hold? Expect podcasting innovation across platforms, business models and formats to continue surging forward. But ultimately, the human voices, stories and ideas that fill this intimate medium will keep rising to engage minds worldwide.
Whether for entertainment, information or connection, the allure of podcasts looks set to captivate audiences for many years yet. There‘s never been a better time to tune in.