Monday, June 1, 2020

Forecast: Podcasting’s Audience To Top 105 Million

The U-S podcast audience grew tremendously in 2019, as significant investments from major audio streaming services made podcast content more accessible. eMarketer now estimates that there were 92 million monthly US podcast listeners in 2019, up more than 15 million from our previous estimate of 76.4 million.

Their forecast was finalized prior to the coronavirus pandemic in the US, where quarantine measures have altered podcast listening habits. Despite the disruption, they still expect the US podcast audience will grow 14.8% this year, reaching 105.6 million listeners.

"Since mid-March, we've seen a decrease in time spent listening to podcasts," said Peter Vahle, eMarketer forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence. "However, we expect listening habits will return to normal in the second half of the year, so that by the end of 2020, we'll see the strong growth in podcast listeners we were anticipating."

The mainstream success of several podcasts—“Serial” in late 2014, “S-Town” in 2017 and the rise of political podcasts like “The Daily” and “Pod Save America” after the 2016 election—helped introduce the medium to a wider demographic. Today’s popular podcast content ranges from comedy and sports to news and culture, according to Edison Research.

As the medium gained popularity with listeners, consumer adoption of smart speakers and audio streaming services grew as well. In 2019, the number of US smart speaker users grew nearly 22% year over year to more than 73 million, and in the same year, US digital audio listeners surpassed 206 million. Promotions, like Spotify giving away Google Home Mini smart speakers to subscribers, aided this growth.

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