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Fiction and History podcasts surge in popularity — but listeners are left hungry for more

New year, new show? Here are the trends to look out for if you want to start a podcast in 2022

By Jack Wilson, Global Business Analytics & Insights Manager

If our research is anything to go by, plenty of people are planning on starting a podcast this year. But, with hundreds of thousands of competing shows already out there, how do you choose the right category for yours?

Of course, a lot of this comes down to your own expertise and what you can add to the conversation. But it’s also worth thinking about how your show fits into the wider podcast landscape — and whether there are any gaps you can plug.

Looking at global listening figures for Acast podcasts throughout 2021, the most popular shows globally fall into one of three categories: News & Politics, Society & Culture, and Comedy. In fact, that top three was unchanged versus 2020.

When it comes to the biggest movers, however, things start to get a little more interesting. In 2021, there were remarkable increases in listenership for a number of categories:

  • Fiction (+427%)
  • History (+409%)
  • True Crime (+216%)
  • Health (+150%)
  • Games & Hobbies (+103%)

Even taking into account global work-from-home guidelines from governments amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which may naturally have caused a spike in listens across all categories, you only need to compare these figures to those of the top three — News & Politics (+4%), Society & Culture (+15%), and Comedy (+32%) — to see just how significant they are.

However, listeners with an increased appetite for these growing categories are being left hungry.

A gap in the market

Take Fiction, for example. Looking at the new shows that were started with Acast in 2021, just over 1% of them belonged to this category. For History, the figure was exactly the same.

Even True Crime — that bastion of podcast categories, and one that grew listenership more than threefold last year — represented just 1% of new shows. It was a similar story for Health (5%) and Games & Hobbies (4%).

On the other hand, 11% of all new shows were Business podcasts and a further 11% were Society & Culture shows, while 4% were News & Politics, and 9% were Comedy.

There are clear opportunities for creators to satisfy growing listener appetites by starting new podcasts focusing on growing categories where production has not yet fulfilled demand. That’s not to say the most popular podcast genres are impossible to break into, but the competition is intense — so you’ll need a fresh take, or something unique that helps you stand out.

If you’re thinking about starting a podcast this year, have a look at Aclass Essentials: Acast’s brand-new, completely free toolkit with everything you need to know to get going. From mic technique to marketing, it’s all in there.

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