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Why Podcasts in 2021 Will Take the #1 Spot for Content Creation

Mar 19, 2021

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Podcasts are gaining traction fast, and 2021 is shaping up to be a year of unprecedented growth. With media giants like Spotify and Apple invigorating their platforms with podcasting innovation and partnerships, it’s no wonder the medium’s popularity is on the rise.

Podcasts in 2021 will see a rise in nearly every considerable aspect: listeners, production value, sheer number of podcasts.

Despite 2020’s Drawbacks, It Set the Stage for Podcasting Potential in 2021

According to Edison Research, every week of the year saw nearly 68 million American podcast listeners. That’s an incredible number, and one that could have easily been influenced by the (unfortunate) downtime most of the world was slapped with due to the pandemic.

That’s actually a tumultuous statement. While podcasts did see a rise in listeners, the pandemic hindered podcast ad revenue. In a report from the IAB, $708 million was reported in ad revenue for 2019. In that same report and considering the pandemic, 2020 ad revenue was expected to grow by 14.7% and near the $1 billion mark. That didn’t happen.

Podcasts in 2021 will reach that $1 billion mark. This is widely believed and can be quoted from people like Hernan Lopez, the Founder and CEO of Wondery and the SVP at Edison Research, Tom Webster. 2021 will be podcasts’ biggest year yet.

Are You Ready for Some Thrilling Podcast Statistics? The Answer is Yes!

We all love a good set of stats to clear up confusion with simple, bite-sized snippets of info. So, here’s some of the most important statistics that surely indicate the rise of podcasts in 2021.

  • There are over 1.75 million podcasts available.
  • 68 million (24%) of US residents listen to podcasts weekly.
  • Comedy is the most popular genre, closely followed by education and news.
  • Podcast listeners are less likely to have cable TV and more likely to stream.

Of course, there are a million statistics to read into about podcasts in 2021, but these are the ones we should pay attention to most for a variety of reasons.

Within the 1.75 million podcasts available, there are a total of 43 million episodes. It’s up to you to find the shows and episodes you value most, which leads directly into the next topic about streaming platforms. But first, let’s clear up the other stats.

68 million people in the US listen to podcasts on a weekly basis. That accounts for regular listening. However, the number changes depending on listening habits. 155 million people have listened to a podcast at least once. 104 million have listened to a podcast in the last month. 16 million are die-hard podcast listeners. Which group do you fall into, and which do you think will change the most for podcasting in 2021?

The most popular categories make sense, for the most part. That’s if they include true crime under the “education” category.

Here’s the most informative tidbit: podcast listeners are more likely to stream than to have cable. Why is this important? Because it speaks volumes to advertising on the platform. If listeners don’t subscribe to cable, they won’t be exposed to TV advertising. Nor will they be exposed to advertising on premium streaming platforms (for products and services not directly related to the platform). That means ads on podcasts in 2021 are the most likely platform for growth in this demographic. In fact, 69% of listeners agreed that the ads they heard on podcasts made them aware of new products and services.

Streaming Platforms are Gearing Up for War When it Comes to Podcasts in 2021

Specifically, Spotify has doubled down on its efforts to become the top platform for podcasts in 2021. The streaming platform acquired Gimlet Media, Parcast, The Ringer, and Anchor, all of which produce high quality podcasts that can be published exclusively on Spotify’s platform.

Exclusivity is a key factor in any media. It’s what keeps you glued to Netflix or why you find yourself subscribing to HBO Max and Disney Plus. When you know this one platform will have the products you like, then that’s the platform you’ll subscribe to. Not all the shows created by the companies above are only found on Spotify, but it does seem likely in the future. I’d be willing to bet Spotify needs to prove to listeners on other platforms, namely Apple Podcasts, that they’re content is worthy of making the switch. That’s pure speculation as there is no official data from Spotify that hashes out their podcast forecast, but it does seem likely.

A report from eMarketer estimates that by the end of 2021, Spotify will have 28.2 million podcast listeners versus Apple Podcasts’ 28 million.

Spotify isn’t the only platform out there for podcasts in 2021, Apple Podcasts is also a top contender. The reason Spotify is attracting so much attention is because of their fury of acquisitions, between companies and shows, and announcements. Aside from this, Apple still stands as the top platform for podcasts. Only time will tell how long that can last. They just recently announced plans to launch kid-friendly podcasts, which is a demographic largely untargeted.

Then there are other platforms like Stitcher and a slew of self-hosted podcast company sites. Their shows are more often to appear on the bigger streaming platforms, but it still stands to reason that fans of a particular product will always be able to subscribe solely to that producer.

Why You’ll Want to Start Listening to Podcasts in 2021, if You Don’t Already

Podcasts have become invaluable in the way of unique and reputable content creation. We live in a world that places multitasking at its core. Podcasts offer the flexibility and ease of acquiring new information without the need to sit and read a book, watch a documentary, or have a discussion with some. As lonely and uneventful as that sounds, it’s more relevant than ever.

Multitasking Takes the Cake

With the pandemic still on our shoulders, no one is that free to go out of their home safely. That could mean less available resources for you, so where do you turn? With podcasts in 2021, it’s easier than ever to take care of the kids or prep dinner or clean the house while you listen. In fact, 59% of podcast listeners have done housework at the same time.

Find Your New Thing

Sometimes life gets a bit stagnant. I think I can safely say that everyone has had the moment where they scroll through all of Netflix and still can’t find anything to watch. Let podcasts be that new thing. You can learn something new, learn more about a topic you love, find a new comedian to keep you smiling, tune into the news without sitting in front of a TV, or get gritty with all the true crime your heart can handle. There’s seriously something for everyone. You just need to go in and find it.

Portability Makes All the Difference

It’s strange to describe podcasts as portable, but that’s exactly what they are. You can listen anywhere: home, car, gym, work, bathroom, the ocean! The sky is literally the limit (and that’s because no one’s tested listening to podcasts in space yet). When you find yourself saying “I wish I had time for……..”, find a podcast on it. You’ll more easily find the time because you can fit it in anywhere.

Wrapping Up Podcasts for 2021

Even though podcasts have been around for over a decade, they still felt like a sort of sleeper media until now. Podcasts in 2021 will get even better, reach even more people, and possibly replace old media consumption habits. If you’re not listening to podcasts yet, there’s no better time to start.


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