The Rising Popularity of Podcasts

Grace Morrison '22, Staff writer

Fifteen years ago Apple launched over 3,000 free podcasts on iTunes. Now, there are over 1,500,000 podcasts available on many platforms (figure from October 2020). There are 43 million more American listeners than in 2013. Podcasts are a form of entertainment that is educational and informative, for the most part, compared to listening to music, which can be informative but most likely serves the purposes of enjoyment. Podcasts are a popular form of media for creators, because it is less costly than most other media. Also, creators are able to acquire sponsors and have ads through their podcast, making their art or hobby a job. By 2021, ad revenue for podcasts is expected to reach over one billion dollars. On average, popular podcasts are able to charge two or three times the ad revenue of radio advertisements. The most popular podcast platform is Spotify with Apple as a close second. Many other media platforms have created their own podcasts such as CNN, iHeartRadio, and NPR. It seems that many radio companies are quickly making the switch to podcasts, as podcasts are in demand. Listeners decide what they want to hear, and when they want to hear it, unlike live television and radio. This means that if a large number of people are subscribing to a podcast, there’s a higher chance the information is being received, just like a magazine or newspaper subscription. Even celebrities are getting in on the action with Will Ferrell hosting The Ron Burgundy Podcast, Michelle Obama hosting The Michelle Obama Podcast, and Trevor Noah hosting The Daily Show With Trevor Noah: Ears Edition. Michelle Obama’s husband and former president stated, “Podcasts offer an extraordinary opportunity to foster productive dialogue, make people smile and make people think, and, hopefully, bring us all a little closer together.” 

In the quick, digital age of 2020, the majority of people want facts, and want them fast. Podcasts give listeners the ability to absorb information while doing other tasks. Not to mention podcasts can be accessed on any device, making this form of entertainment portable. Multitasking is an important part of the busy American culture. There is not always downtime to watch the news or read a book, but podcasts make this possible. Unlike other popular streaming platforms, the majority of podcasts are free, and the possibilities for a podcast are infinite. If there is a proposal for a podcast, there is most likely an audience. The interesting podcasts include Stuff To Blow Your Mind, Footnoting History, and Lore. Each of these podcasts fit a specific niche such as random facts, history of english tools, and ghost stories. Listeners between the ages of 22 and 44 make up 49 percent of total listeners, making them the targeted demographic. Just like the popularity of bloggers, any person can share their thoughts and experiences through a podcast. Before podcasts, there were audio blogs, often consumed through iPods. Even with the recent popularity of podcasts, television, radio, and print are still the most popular forms of media. Of course, new technology always has the upperhand with the younger generation, compared to older forms of entertainment.