In case you hadn’t noticed, but there is a podcast boom of sorts going around these days. I came across some statistics about podcasts. According to a podcast search engine, ListenNotes, there are at least 1.38 million podcasts (with 75.1 million episodes.)
The pandemic lockdown has been a big boost for podcast creation — from March to June 2020, 308,000 new podcasts were created. So far there are 413,000 new podcasts that came to the market so far in 2020. It is not even July, and there are over 14 million episodes, much higher than the total number of episodes in 2018. Yeah, there is a podcast creation boom.
How about the listening side of the equation?
According to Podtrac, a podcast focused market research group, at the end of May 2020, the downloads of podcasts are up almost 31 percent since January 2020, while the audience is up by about 13 percent.
eMarketer, a market research firm, forecasts that the podcast revenues in the US will increase to $863 million in 2020 and $1.05 billion in 2021. This relatively modest revenue, when compared to a large number of podcasts, gives me a reason for a pause.
Sure, Spotify and Pandora have made a big bet on this opportunity — but they are trying to increase time spent on their platforms and make those platforms more sticky. Spotify definitely wants to get out from under the yoke of record companies, and nothing like the cheap minutes it can clock with podcasts like that of Joe Rogan. Think talk radio, more than anything else.
If you check out the Chartable podcast charts, you can start to see the top podcasts are either an audio version of a television show, or some radio show offered for “listening later.” Vox, NBC, and other larger publishers are starting to increase their presence. This situation reminds me of the blogging boom — in the early days, a few dozen blogs at the top made a lot of money, while the rest of the blogs languished in the long tail.
The monetization kept decreasing as more blogs entered the market. And eventually the big boys — newspapers and magazines created their frankenblogs and monetized them by selling them as a bundle with their other offerings.