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U.S. Podcasting Industry - Statistics & Facts

Back in 2006, only 22 percent of the adult population in the United States was aware of podcasting. By 2021, this figure had risen to 78 percent. Podcasting is an increasingly popular pastime in the U.S. and there were an estimated 120 million podcast listeners in the country in 2021. Forecasts suggest that the number of podcast listeners will surpass 160 million in 2023 after increases of around 20 million each year.

The podcast audience is growing

As awareness and usage has grown, so has consumption frequency. Data from a study conducted in early 2021 showed that 41 percent of the U.S. population reported to have listened to a podcast in the past month, more than three times the share recorded a decade earlier. Podcast listeners themselves are a diverse bunch, and according to a report held in the United States podcasting is growing the fastest among Millennials in minority ethnic groups. In 2020, 67 percent of the U.S. podcast audience was White, while 16 percent was Hispanic and 11 percent of the podcast audience was Black. With that, the U.S. comes in slightly below the global average in terms of podcast audience diversity.

National Public Radio and iHeartRadio are competing for market dominance

When it comes to publishers, National Public Radio (NPR) is one of the leaders the United States, normally drawing in a unique monthly audience of over 20 million listeners. Using the reputation and influence from its massive U.S. based following, NPR also ranks among the top podcast publishers worldwide, accumulating hundreds of millions of unique streams and downloads each month. The success of NPR can be attributed mainly to its unique content; a number of its podcasts, such as NPR Politics Podcast, TED Radio Hour, Planet Money, and Fresh Air offer listeners a combination of entertainment and practical knowledge that has become popular among listeners.

NPR competes with iHeartRadio for the top spot when it comes to listeners and downloads both in the United States and worldwide, with iHeartRadio having built up a solid lead over NRP in recent years. Podcasts can be a lucrative source of revenue for media companies, evidenced by iHeartMedia which filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and emerged with revenue of over 3.68 billion U.S. dollars at the end of the following year thanks to its digital and podcasting endeavors. Meanwhile, the format’s growing popularity and potential led music streaming giant Spotify to invest hundreds of millions of dollars on podcast-related acquisitions, including award-winning company Gimlet. Even retail behemoth Amazon is intending to get involved in the industry, paving the way for disruptions and competition in the market.


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