If you’re already a podcaster, someone interested in starting a podcast, a podcast listener, or you’re a business or company looking to invest in podcasting or podcast advertising, then knowing where the industry is at is important.
And while chatting with friends or a contact who is currently involved in podcasting to ask them what the deal is might be helpful, actually understanding the podcast industry from a statistics perspective can help broaden your knowledge with data-based facts.
In this post I’m going to share several powerful podcasting statistics. I’ll look back at previous years, including what podcasting 2019 looked like for comparison, plus point out the many ways that podcasting popularity is growing.
Podcast Statistics Categories Included
Podcast statistics reach far and wide, and we could go any number of different directions here. I’m going to dip into several different categories, including the following:
- Number of overall podcast listeners
- The podcasts with most listeners
- Average number of listens or downloads per episode
- Podcast sponsorships (and how people are making money podcasting)
- And so much more!
While I’ll cite a lot of research throughout, one of my main sources of data for this post is Edison Research and Triton Digital. They’ve been doing The Infinite Dial* for years, looking at things like internet audio, mobile behaviors, podcasting, and social media. In fact, The Infinite Dial is the longest-running survey of digital media consumer behavior in America.
Alright, ready to dive into some powerful podcast statistics?
Let’s do it!
7 Powerful Podcast Statistics
One of the most exciting things about the podcasting industry is that it continues to grow year over year. And this isn’t just from a podcast listeners perspective – this is from a podcast creators perspective, too.
Podcast popularity is on the rise, and we’ve got the statistics to prove it.
1. Podcast Listening Now at 55%
Podcasting is still considered a rather new medium. It wasn’t until 2006 Edison Research even started including it in their Infinite Dial report, and since, podcast listening has increased from 11% to 55%.
That’s a huge increase in under 15 years!
What are the contributing factors to an increase in podcast listeners?
Well, to name a few:
- Overall podcast awareness
- Smartphone ownership
- Accessibility to free, targeted, on-demand content
When you look at some of the contributing factors, there’s a lot to consider.
Year after year the overall awareness of podcasting has increased.
In just the last six years, the amount of media attention podcasting has received is exponential.
- In October 2014 Serial podcast launched Season 1, Episode 1; it was reported in early February 2015 that Season 1 episodes had been downloaded more than 68 million times.
- In June 2015 Marc Maron announces that he’ll host Barack Obama, the then President of the United States, on his podcast – from his garage!
- Released in March 2017, S Town makes some big waves: the podcast was downloaded a record-breaking 10 million times in just 4 days.
- In early 2019 Spotify announced it would acquire Gimlet Media for $230 million, in addition to the podcast hosting service Anchor.
- In May 2020 Joe Rogan’s podcast moves over to Spotify as a Spotify exclusive podcast, and in July 2020 Higher Ground and Spotify Announce ‘The Michelle Obama Podcast’, another Spotify exclusive.
Massive deals are being made, and it’s making major news headlines. These are just a few of the major news stories in podcasting over the past six years.
Smartphone ownership is also on the rise.
The Infinite Dial reports that in 2020, 85% of the total U.S. population 12 years or older own a smartphone, and these days, your podcast app is just a click away.
And we can’t leave out the incredible perks of podcasting: it’s accessibility.
Podcasting offers free, targeted, and on-demand content. There really isn’t another medium out there that offers this trifecta.
Yes, YouTube offers free, targeted, and on-demand content, but when’s the last time you watched a YouTube video while you were running? Folding laundry? Doing the dishes? Driving in your car?
The accessibility of podcasts is through the roof – you don’t have to say no to one thing in order to say yes to listening to podcasts. And that’s a major differentiator.
2. Podcasts Published on Apple Podcasts Tops 1 Million
In a recent Podnews newsletter – which you can subscribe to for daily podcasting news here – they reported, “there are now 1,136,520 podcasts in Apple Podcasts, according to the data.” (“the data” is cited below)
That’s A LOT of podcasts!
And the number of new podcasts published each month seems to be picking up speed. Whether it’s a weekly podcast, a monthly podcast, or something in between, in both April and May 2020 new records were set for the number of new podcasts published on Apple Podcasts:
- In April, 90,977 new shows were added to Apple Podcasts according to Daniel J Lewis’s My Podcast Reviews Industry Statistics
- In May, 96,537 new shows were added to Apple Podcasts
I told you the stats are growing exponentially for both listeners and creators!
But it’s important to note that not all of these are active podcasts.
Another exciting stat shared through Podnews?
It’s official: Apple Podcasts have announced that they have over one million shows, in more than 100 languages, in 175 countries and regions. They recently launched Apple Podcasts in twenty more countries.
And this brings us back to the accessibility. Podcasting truly has a worldwide reach! Whether you listen via social media, your smart speaker, your cell phone, or other, podcasting is always at your fingertips.
Why create your own podcast? The better question is “How to create a podcast“! :)
3. How Many Downloads Equals a Successful Podcast?
If you’re a podcaster, or considering diving into podcasting, then I’m willing to bet at one time or another you’ve wondered about podcast download numbers.
How do you know if you’re doing well, and how can you compare your download numbers to other podcasts download numbers?
There are a lot of statistics available to you inside your podcast media host; however, what you don’t have access to is other podcasters’ numbers.
Lucky for us, our favorite podcast media host, Libsyn, provides a lot of great statistics around average podcast download numbers to help us gauge where we’re at. (If you’re looking for a podcast host, use promo code FIRE to join Libsyn and receive the rest of this month AND next month free!)
I’m going to share the data, but first: your podcast download numbers (sometimes referred to as the number of podcast listeners you have) aren’t everything and shouldn’t be your only measurement when considering whether your podcast is successful.
That said, based on stats reported by Libsyn (so keep in mind this is just a sample size of the overall podcasting industry since it only looks at podcasts hosted on Libsyn – which is A LOT), here are some numbers to help you understand how many downloads a typical podcast gets.
Looking at episodes 30 days post-publishing, if your podcast episode has over…
- 123 downloads, then you’re in the top 50% of podcasts (now that’s perspective!)
- 1,000 downloads you’re in the top 20% of podcasts
- 6,600 downloads you’re in the top 5% of podcasts
- 30,000 downloads you’re in the top 1% of podcasts
Again, your podcast download numbers aren’t the be-all, end-all of your podcasting journey. But these stats are helpful for perspective.
What I always remind podcasters is this:
If you have a podcast episode that gets 100 downloads, then picture yourself on stage in an auditorium. Every time you hit record and start speaking into your microphone, you have 100 people sitting in the audience who are choosing to be there and listening to YOU.
When you’re at home podcasting by yourself – potentially at your kitchen table, or maybe even your closet – it’s easy to feel alone. We’ve all asked the question, “Is anyone listening?”
But before you start trying to convince yourself it’s not worth it, or that your download numbers are “too small” (whatever that means), picture the above scenario. Not many people in this world can say they’re able to get up on stage and speak to 100 people.
Looking for ways to grow your podcast listeners? Here are the Top 7 Strategies to make it happen.
4. Age and Sex of Podcast Listeners Even and Steady
As a podcaster, your reach, impact, and ability to share a message that’s meaningful to you (and to your audience) is powerful.
So in addition to figuring out how you’re going to make your podcasting journey sustainable, you should also be considering demographics and who your perfect listener is.
We like to call your perfect podcast listeners your avatar, and demographics are certainly a part of that discovery process.
Demographics are also great statistics to share with potential advertisers, partners, and affiliates. If you’re able to clearly communicate who your listeners are, then potential partners will be able to easily decide whether they want to be in front of that audience.
Overall, here are some of the demographic statistics included in The Infinite Dial report:
- 51% male to 49% female ratio of podcast listeners
- Age 12-34: 49%; Age 35-54: 40%; Age 55+: 22% listen to podcasts
- Annual household income: 51% of Monthly Podcast Consumers 18+ have a household income of $75k or higher (Infinite Dial 2018)
Again, you’ll want to go way beyond just the demographics when defining who your perfect podcast listeners are, but this is great data to have in your back pocket.
5. Top 10 Podcasts by Weekly Reach
As a podcaster, it’s good practice to look to those who you admire to learn from.
- Wondering what makes a great podcast?
- What type of content is attracting the most listeners?
- How often the top podcasts publish episodes, and how long each of their episodes are?
These are all things you can find out by seeking out the top podcasts in your category in the Apple Podcasts app. While the top podcast lists aren’t always a direct correlation of the most downloaded podcasts, the fact they’re featured is a good indicator that they’re popular.
Another place to turn to? The statistics!
Edison Research recently published the Top 30 U.S. Podcasts According to the Podcast Consumer Tracker.
Here are the top 10 from that list:
- Joe Rogan Experience by Joe Rogan
- The Daily by The New York Times
- This American Life by This American Life/Serial
- My Favorite Murder by Exactly Right
- Crime Junkie by Audiochuck
- Stuff You Should Know by HowStuffWorks
- Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! by NPR
- Planet Money by NPR
- Pod Save America by Crooked Media
- Serial by This American Life/Serial
6. Number of Podcasts Listened to in the Last Week
People listen to podcasts not just once or twice, but a large majority listened four or more in the last week!
If you consider the number of people who have listened to a podcast – period – then combine that with the number of podcasts being listened to per week, the numbers start to add up.
Over 49% of podcast listeners said they’ve listened to four or more podcasts in the last week!
- Four or Five: 19%
- Six to Ten: 18%
- 11 or More: 12%
Podcast listeners listen to podcasts.
7. How Much Money do Podcasts Make?
It’s tough to say for certain since many podcasters don’t actually share these numbers, but we have a pretty good feel for what’s possible when it comes to making money from your podcast because we’ve been doing it since 2012!
Every single month we publish a monthly income report. We share every dollar made, every dollar spent, and all the ways in which we make it happen.
So I’ll start by sharing our numbers – even though they shouldn’t be considered ‘the norm’ – since I know they’re 100% accurate.
In July 2020 we generated $170,492 gross revenue, and $137,440 net. Our sponsorship revenue from the podcast alone was $74,940, and our affiliate income generated was $57,108. We also generate revenue from online courses and physical journal sales.
Our business is much more than just a podcast these days, but that’s how it all started: with the launch of a daily podcast interviewing successful entrepreneurs in September 2012. Plus, we don’t spend money on ads, so a vast majority of our audience knows who we are, well, because of the podcast!
How many podcasts actually have paid sponsors?
As I said before, this isn’t ‘the norm’. There probably aren’t too podcasts with paid sponsors when we look at an overall percentage; however, podcast sponsorship are definitely a possibility.
We run an exclusive podcasting community, Podcasters’ Paradise, where we teach people how to create, grow, and monetize their own podcast. Inside our Private Facebook Group we’ve seen countless members share wins, including:
- Locking in sponsorships before even launching their podcast
- Starting affiliate partnerships that result in significant revenue
- Sparking a TV deal as a result of their podcast!!
- Having sponsors knocking at THEIR door to get spots on their show
Again, podcast sponsorships aren’t the norm, but they’re definitely possible. To learn about all things podcast sponsorships, check out our Ultimate Guide to Podcast Sponsorships.
Why Podcast Statistics Matter
Whether you’re an existing podcaster, someone interested in starting a podcast, a podcast listener, or you’re a business or company looking to invest in podcasting or podcast advertising, knowing where the industry is at is important.
Other than personal experience and through doing A LOT of testing, stats-based research is the best way to gauge where the podcasting industry is at.
We hope this list of some powerful podcast statistics is a helpful resource for you on your journey!
* In January/February 2020, Edison Research conducted a national telephone survey of 1502 people aged 12 and older, using random digit dialing techniques to both cell phones and landlines. The survey is offered in both English and Spanish, and data is weighted to national 12+ U.S. population figures.