The number of podcast listeners is projected to grow ten percent this year to 117.8 million. The latest forecast from eMarketer says that while the rate of growth is slowing as more and more people listen to podcasts, the sheer number of people will continue to climb in the foreseeable future. The firm predicts podcast listeners will top 126 million in 2022, a 7.2% increase from 2021. And by 2026, nearly 145 million Americans are expected to make podcasts part of their media diet.
Analysts at eMarketer say they expect podcasting to grow its reach from 35% of the U.S. population today to 39% next year – and to 42% by 2026.
“Podcast listening is on the rise globally with highest penetration rates in English-speaking markets. The U.S. leads worldwide both in terms of production and penetration, but listener growth is rising the fastest in China,” it says in an update.
It is not just podcasting’s reach and ad revenue that are going up. So is the amount of time each day that people are spending listening to podcasts. The latest eMarketer estimates show users will listen to just under 20 minutes per day in 2021. But it forecasts the average time spent per day with podcasts will top 25 minutes by 2023 as growth remains in double-digits.
The rise in podcast consumption comes as analysts at eMarketer estimate Americans will spend on average 60.5% of their total media time with digital media this year. That compares to 49% of media time going to digital five years ago. And analysts project by 2023 roughly 64% of media time will be going to digital as traditional media’s grip loosens. The firm says U.S. adults will spend 13 hours and 12 minutes per day with media in 2021.
That growing consumption is likely to translate into more ad dollars, as marketers follow the crowd when making their media buying decisions. Analysts at eMarketer now forecast podcast ad revenue will reach $1.33 billion this year, a 39% year-over-year increase based in part on stronger than expected advertising on podcasts during the second half of last year. By 2023, eMarketer thinks podcast ad revenue will top the $2 billion mark.
Analysts said earlier they believe iHeartMedia is pocketing the most podcast ad dollars. The latest data seems to confirm that. When iHeart released its second quarter revenue figures earlier this month, it said podcast revenue jumped 152% from a year ago to $53.4 million for the quarter. “Podcasting is the hottest category within digital advertising, it’s the hottest of the hot, and we have a great hand,” said CEO Bob Pittman.