Abandoned Albums
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Abandoned Albums


Have we reached “peak podcast”?

Let’s look at what the data shows us.

The other day, I talked with a friend about my Abandoned Albums and my ultimate goal. When I snarkily replied: “World domination,” she furrowed her brow and asked:

“Don’t you think we’ve reached peak podcast?”

My initial reactive answer was that I did not think that. I then racked my brain and listed out my hazy reasons for this. When I got home, I opened my laptop and looked around for data supporting my position.

It turns out I wasn’t wrong.

Even a cursory review of the data indicates that we have not reached peak podcast. But that isn’t going to be news to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of media. History proves that eventually, all media gets its peak moment of influence.

The data firmly supports that podcasts aren’t there… yet.

Of course, with two podcasts in production and a few more queued up, I have skin in the game, so I am biased.

The rational mind may think that with an estimated 2 million podcasts worldwide, it is a fool’s errand to venture into this arena. I feel that the medium is still finding its way. It’s in the awkward “junior high” stage, and the only way to get over it is to go through it. Thus, perseverance is the best method to rise above the fray.

The United States is the largest consumer of podcasts by a substantial margin. Nearly 50% of all podcasts are consumed by Americans, with Great Britain being the next closest with a podcast consumption of 6%.

The demographics of podcasting are viewed one of two ways; either wildly disappointing and disparagingly, OR as an opportunity. According to Edison Research, the racial breakdown of active podcast listeners leaves plenty of opportunities:

  • 57% White
  • 13% African American
  • 16% Hispanic
  • 4% Asian
  • 10% Other

For anyone who listens to podcasts, even just a little, it won’t surprise you to learn that the three most popular genres of podcasts are comedy, news, and true crime. It should be noted that the difference in these genres, as well as all other genres, falls within what I consider a basic margin of error of 1% to 3%.

So, what about the growth of podcasts?

Like most things, it comes down to dollars and cents. A 2021 study by The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PriceWaterhouseCoopers showed that podcast ad revenue had finally crossed the 1 billion dollar threshold (1.4 billion). And according to Grand View Research, global podcasting was valued at 11.46 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 31% through 2028. Similarly, the IAB and PwC study projects ad revenue will grow by almost 100% annually to reach $4 billion by 2024.

This growth makes sense when you consider the attention given to podcasts. A report by Discover Pods shows that 59% of podcast fans spend more time listening to podcasts than on social media. Additionally, 66% of podcast fans are more likely to listen to podcasts than watch tv.

To paint a complete picture, it should be noted that over half (52%) of podcast listeners do not finish the podcast. Two other important things to note:

  1. They will turn the podcast off if you don’t grab a listener’s attention in the first five minutes.
  2. Listeners are less likely to listen if the podcast exceeds one hour in length.

There are approximately 104 million people who engage with podcasts monthly. Of those aged 12–35, 86% listen to podcasts, including online audio, at least once a month. Regular listeners of podcasts listen to 7 different shows and 8 hours of content weekly, and the largest group of listeners are those with an annual income between 100k-150k annually.

Podcasting has moved beyond the “two people in a basement” vibe of a few years ago. Sure, those still exist, but so does cable access television. Those producers with a purpose or vision make the necessary effort to make their podcasts sound professional and stand out.

While comedy, politics, and true crime dominate the commercial podcast landscape, the medium is still underutilized.

In the modern work environment, corralling a team together for a weekly update may be more challenging than corralling a herd of cats. But providing a weekly update podcast or online audio would help deliver team or corporate updates.

Also, as we inch closer to the 2022 and 2024 elections, podcasts would help candidates deliver their messages. This would prevent the wear and tear of walking around countywide, statewide, or countrywide. And considering the Covid pandemic continues to be an albatross around our societal neck, podcasting is another tool to avoid potential exposure.

Do I feel we’ve reached “peak podcast”?

No, I do not.

History tells us we will, but we’re not there yet.

Have you considered how podcasts may help you in your business?



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