Podcast revenue growth is lagging growth in time spent with the medium, but now is the time to stake your claim to your community’s listening time. Audience numbers are increasing steadily and it won’t be long until your audio investments pay off.
The podcast market in America, the world’s biggest, will be worth over $1 billion this year according to eMarketer. Globally it’s set to reach $41.8 billion by 2026, according to Research & Markets. Yes, radio advertising is worth more, almost $18 billion in the US, but it’s not growing at anywhere near the rate podcasting is.
Growth in podcast advertising budgets is being driven, quite simply, by growth in audience numbers. According to the sector’s bellwether report, the Infinite Dial from Edison Research, around 80 million Americans listen to podcasts weekly, up 17% in 2020.
Even COVID-19 couldn’t get in the way of podcast growth. The pandemic looked like it would
dent listener numbers, and at first the absence of the commute did have an impact. But lockdown listeners came roaring back as they looked for ways to fill their time and podcast listening is now spread evenly across the day.
It is this steady, across-the-board progress that is fueling the growth in advertising. With the total number of podcast listeners in the US predicted to reach more than 130 million in 2023, US podcast ad spending is expected to rise to more than $1.3 billion next year according to eMarketer.
Tools to grow and monetize your podcast audiences around the world
Acast delivers both hosting and monetisation options through ad sales and subscriptions. Publishers on the platform include the Financial Times, the Economist, the BBC and PBS.
The easiest way to start podcasting
Buzzsprout positions its services as simple to use, delivering hosting, promotion and tracking services. It focuses on monetisation through affiliate marketing.
The modern independent podcast hosting and analytics platform
Seven years old, Simplecast provides podcasters with publishing, distribution, analytics, and sharing tools. Clients include Fast Company, Techcrunch and Politico.
There are several strong examples of publishers using podcasts to drive their subscription efforts. There are fewer examples of publishers asking people to pay directly for podcast content. But the tech to charge listeners for audio content is developing rapidly and one publisher at least is seeing some success in selling subscriptions.
Initially an add-on to the movie monthly’s weekly podcast, Empire’s Spoiler Specials podcasts come out after a film release. This allows the team to engage in plot-heavy movie analysis that would be unacceptable in regular episodes dedicated to trailing upcoming releases. Subscribers get a minimum of two new Spoiler Special episodes a month plus exclusive access to 100+ archive episodes.
“I think we have an offering that is really unique,” says Editor in Chief Terri White. “We have access to the filmmakers and then we have the expertise of the film. People are paying for that insight and that expertise that they can’t necessarily get in lots of other places.”
More from The Fix: Podcasts in Europe: from scaling to monetization