Why Are Podcasts Still Popular? Will They Become Unpopular Soon?

Podcasts remain one of the most popular ways to connect with other people perhaps because they are easy to listen to and many offer interesting shows.

If you don’t think so check out some of these statistics for podcasting in 2020:

  • More than 55% of the US population has tuned in to a podcast.
  • Podcast listeners have grown 37.5% in 3 short years.
  • In 2017, 40% of Americans 12 or older had turned into a podcast, compared to 55% in 2020.
  • Around 75% of Americans are familiar with podcasting.
  • In 2020, for the first time, a larger percentage of American consumers tuned in to a podcast weekly than gone to church or religious services; 24% to 23%. Also,68 million Americans are weekly podcast listeners.
  • Half of Americans Ages 12-34 now listen to podcasts monthly.
  • As of 2020, 49% of all Americans, 12-34, listen to at least one podcast per month, compared to 42% in 2019.

Podcast Evolution

Podcasts started in the 1980s and way before the Internet (which began in August 1991 for the general public) and were referred to as ‘audio blogging.’ They were available for anyone who wanted to share their experiences and thoughts with others. But, because it was not yet discovered how to easily distribute the audio recordings, it wasn’t until two decades later podcasts became the thing to do.

By the early 2000s and with the increased popularity in portable audio devices like the iPod, the idea of transferring audio blogs to an audio player like an MP3 file became available.

A few years later in 2003,  it was possible to download audio blogs to iPods and journalist Ben Hammersley came up with the term ‘podcasting,’ from the word ‘pod’ in podcasting.

Apple began adding podcasting to its iTunes Music Library in 2005 and while doing an onstage interview at D3, Steve Jobs then showed how a podcast using a Mac could be shared around the globe.

Fast forward, now more than 700,000 podcasts have been created, with around 30 million episodes of content, most free to listeners.

Excerpts suggest the most popular podcast publishers now are The Daily, and NPR News followed by Up First, Call Her Daddy and The Ben Shapiro Show.

In early 2020, Joe Rogan signed a record $100 Million deal with Spotify to exclusively host the Joe Rogan Experience podcast for 3 years on the network. It is considered to be the largest amount paid to a podcaster for distribution rights for a podcast show.

Listeners Can Multitask

Since its inception, the podcast format has matured and today audio content lets listeners multitask. A recent study revealed while 49% of podcast listening occurs at home, 22% is during driving, 11% at the workplace, and 8% while exercising.

Podcast audio content offers listeners the chance to discover topics without putting aside additional time to read or watch TV, etc. Podcasts also have articles in for daily commutes or routines on smaller scales, offering smaller bits of info.

The advantage of today’s podcasting format is its variety and many voices and hosts. If you can think of a topic you are interested in, chances are it’s available for your listening pleasure found online in podcast format.

By offering listeners a broad range of content this helps to keep them engaged and tuned in for long periods.

Popular Topics

In 2020, some of the most popular topics for podcasts include society and culture, business, comedy, health, news, and of course, politics. It is said that in less than an hour a day, listeners may become industry experts about their favorite topics.

Thanks to the huge choices of podcast topics advertisers can reach consumer markets in various niches that are constructed of highly engaged listeners.

Host-read advertisements gain higher trust from listeners and do not interrupt the ebb and flow of the episode with an unfamiliar person’s voice conducting the podcast.

Also, some podcast hosts get their sponsors based on personal use of products and/or services.

One major benefit for advertisers is a large portion of listeners stay tuned in to almost the entire podcast episode. Drop-off rates for listeners are incredibly less for podcasts than other platforms, for example, like YouTube.

Full Steam Ahead for Podcasting

These listeners' traits along with little competition make podcasts an excellent option for advertisers.

The sponsored advertising trend for podcasts is also a motivation for marketers and consumers alike.

More ad revenue offers more incentive to develop content, which, as a result, gives more topics that garner even more listeners.

As the podcast movement continues to grow yearly, and the numbers climb, creating a podcast might be something you want to think or try doing sooner rather than later.