Is podcasting dead? Okay, I know that’s a bit of a morbid start to a blog post. But stick around to the end, because this one has a happy ending. I promise.
Because I’m going to unpack some of my foundational beliefs that podcasting is alive and kicking.
And I’m also going to address a very important question along the way…is it too late to start a podcast at this stage in 2023?
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So let me get back to that initial question…Is podcasting dead? If you hate spoilers, then look away now…
Because, SPOILER ALERT!
No. Podcasting is certainly not dead.
So, why the question in the first place? Well, because of a recent conversation. I’ll spare you all the details, but a key takeaway was a statement made by one of the participants in which they stated that they think podcasting is on the way out…
I think I was successful in keeping my personal feelings from showing on my face. It wasn’t the time or the place to launch into a rebuttal. The topic quickly moved to the next topic. (Namely, had anyone booked tickets yet to see the Barbie movie, Oppenheimer, or both?)
(And, if the answer was, “both!” did they have a game plan for their viewing schedule?)
(Also have you Googled the Barbie movie yet? Do it. I’ll wait.)
It doesn’t work with Oppenheimer. I checked.
But I digress. So while I didn’t immediately launch into a very moving monologue as to why podcasting is certainly not on the “way out”, I did do that thing when you replay a conversation in your head after the fact, and go over all the things you would have said if you had the chance.
Hence, this blog post. But in all honesty, it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while. Because it is a question that crops up from time to time in the podcasting space.
And this happens for several reasons.
The first being that the podcasting industry is not as mature as other media channels, which means it’s still evolving. Yes, podcasting has been around for around two decades, but as far as communication and entertainment mediums go, it’s still in its infancy. And this, naturally, leaves room for people to wonder and ponder about its future.
Because, as with anything, you just don’t know how things will turn out.
But another reason why this question gets asked is because podcasting has been around for twenty or so years. (I know, talk about double standards!) But in this case, it’s a matter of being around for a substantial amount of time without actually becoming all that mainstream…yet.
Because while podcasts’ popularity has certainly grown in leaps and bounds, it hasn’t transcended all generations.
How do I know this? Well, firstly because that’s what the data* says. But secondly, because I still need to explain (very kindly and patiently) exactly what it is I do, usually followed by exactly what a podcast is to certain family members and acquaintances.
*Statistics shown are for the United States. Check out this article for global stats.
But that being said, podcasting’s star is still on the rise…
In fact, going back to all those previous statistics, it’s clear to see that podcasting has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade and shows no signs of slowing down.
And I’m not just saying that. There is plenty of data to support this claim…
Is Podcasting Dead? – What Do the Statistics Say?
Podcasting has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the early 2000s. Fun Fact! Podcasting celebrates its 20th birthday this year! (Cue the confetti!)
According to recent statistics, there are currently over four million podcasts* worldwide. That’s a massive number! Although it should be stated that the number of active podcasts (shows that have actually published new episodes within a 90-day period) is closer to 480,000.*
But, however you slice the pie chart, more and more podcasts are launched every year.
But that’s not the only stat to take note of.
In 2019, it was stated that there were 274.8 million podcast listeners globally. Flash forward to 2023, and the stats show that there are currently 464.7 million listeners.
That’s pretty impressive growth!
But what is the force driving this growth? Well, I think there are two. One, a large part of this growth can be attributed to the low barrier of entry podcasting offers. With fairly relative ease, anyone can launch and sustain a successful show. This means that individuals with expertise to share, businesses who want to grow their brand, or creatives who want to share their stories can do so without too much of a learning curve or huge costs. And then have their content available worldwide.
Two, podcasts provide a way for people to consume content in times and places where other forms of media are limited. Want to up your skills on your daily commute? Podcasts! Looking for an exciting tale to regale you as you prepare dinner? Podcasts! Need a laugh while you handle the laundry? Podcasts!
And as soon as you find the shows and hosts you love, it’s our experience that you, too, will be hooked on podcasts! And contribute to the continual growth of the industry.
These are just part of the reasons why we believe right now is such an exciting time for creators, businesses and brands, and listeners alike.
But my rebuttal to the “podcasting is fading out” statement is not based on stats alone.
My next point would have been…
Podcast Ad Spend
One of the indicators many use to judge the health of podcasting, or I suppose any of the current mediums available, is the ad spend. This has been a hotly discussed topic around many a podcasting table. Mainly because in 2021, U.S. podcast advertising revenues surpassed the $1 billion mark for the first time.
And according to this report from IAB, this helped cement the fact that podcasting continues to be one of the fastest-growing channels in digital media.
And here was the big takeaway from that report…revenues are forecasted to almost triple to $4.2B over the next 3 years.This article forecasts that podcasting will be a $4 billion industry by 2024.
Incredible, right? And yes, while this data is certainly a great indicator of the growth of the industry, I also believe that these types of numbers show the strength and legitimacy of podcasting as a medium.
Money talks, as they say, of course. But while these numbers are undeniably compelling, (and I’m pretty sure I’m changing the mind of my opponent!) again, my argument doesn’t end there…
Podcasting in Pop Culture
Another sign, at least in my calculations, that the podcasting industry is continuing to gain momentum and not fading out is that more and more, we’re seeing ‘podcasts’ and ‘podcasting’ feature in mainstream entertainment.
And let me tell ya, I’m here for it all! I love nothing more than seeing podcasting showing up as a “main character” in all types of pop culture mediums.
Take Only Murders in the Building, (Anyone else counting down the days to Season 3? One word! Meryl!) or Vengeance, as examples. Podcasting and podcasts played a significant role in both of these projects. Podcasting and podcasts as a whole were, in a sense, characters in both of these super popular, unique shows. Again, the fact that podcasting is able to almost transcend its realm and feature significantly in mainstream media is another clear sign of its strength and staying power.
The Continual Rise of Celebrity Podcasts
The next point in my hypothetical
argument conversation is the continual rise of celebrity podcasts. It seems like every other week, some star or another is launching a show. Yes, I know that celebrity endorsement is not a definitive measure that something will last. But it is something worth noting.
And in this day and age, there can be no illusions about the fact that ‘celebrity’ equals influence.
As such, the fact that there are continually new celebrities and famous figures jumping on the podcasting bandwagon is at least a good indication that podcasting is not going anywhere but up anytime soon.
Related read: You can check some of our favorite celebrity-hosted podcasts here.
But the point of this piece is not merely to affirm the fact that podcasting is not dead. I also want to bring it to a practical place, which brings me to that ‘important question’ I alluded to earlier…
Is It Too Late to Start a Podcast?
This is another question that is often toted around when podcasting is on the table for discussion. Someone will, invariably ask, “Is it too late to start a podcast.”
And the answer to this one is easy, too. No. Definitely not. Sure, there are tons of podcasts out there. But they haven’t stopped making movies or writing books because “there are too many.” The same applies to podcasts.
So, it’s definitely not too late to find success in this industry. If you have a great idea for a show, you know you’ve got a great niche, or you want to start a podcast to grow your brand or promote your business, do it! The market is not saturated, and there is definitely ‘space’ for you and your show.
Yes, there are some key points to consider. And things we strongly believe one has to do in order to find success in this space.
But that’s a discussion for another day…
Looking for guidance for starting a podcast? our blog, the Podcast Digest has tons of resources! For starters, check out this post, How To Start a Podcast in 2023.
To Bring It To a Close…
So, to bring all of this to a close…Podcasting, at least by my calculations, is definitely not dead. It’s a growing, thriving, amazing industry! It’s incredible, certainly, for listeners, as there are tons of incredible shows to discover and talented hosts to connect with.
But podcasting is just as exciting for us in the industry. Because while there is a sense of establishment, having been an industry for two decades, there is also always this element of excitement in the air, because we’re still innovating, exploring, and pushing the boundaries of what it means to be in the podcasting space.
And let me tell you, from where we’re standing, the best is yet to come.