The global podcast listening audience is projected to reach 383.7 million this year according to an eMarketer analysis of 18 markets, including the U.S., Canada, and China. And it predicts the number will top a half billion by 2024. The firm says the U.S. has the highest listening penetration of any market, with podcasts reaching 40% of internet users. It is followed by Sweden (35%), Norway (34%), Australia (33%), Canada (33%), and Spain (30%).
Analyst Peter Vahle says the report shows just how big a factor language remains in the podcast market. “If you look at the top five markets, all of them are either English-speaking countries, or countries with high levels of English proficiency,” he said on an eMarketer podcast. “A ton of podcast content is in the English language and it comes from the U.S. The U.S. is the leader in the podcast market and there has been an explosion in content that is available and that is really available to the rest of the world – whereas some of the other markets where they don’t speak English or they have less English speakers, all of that podcast content isn’t necessarily available to them and that’s a natural barrier.”
Analyst Peter Newman noted that each of the top five countries also have higher incomes. “There’s some interesting correlation going on there that basically countries with wealthy citizens are the ones that are generally consuming podcasts even though it’s generally a free medium,” he said. Each also has high smartphone penetration rate.
Among the other highlights is that Canada is projected to move up from No. 5 to No. 3 on eMarketer’s global ranker by 2023.
Vahle said South Korea, Japan and China have the smallest podcast penetration rates, which he attributes to language and the fact that a lot of those populations do not have access to the vast number of podcasts that are available. Yet while China has the lowest penetration rate of the 18 countries examined, eMarketer says it has the biggest growth rate numbers. It estimates they will climb 25% this year versus 2020. And because of the country’s size, it is the second-biggest podcast market in terms of actual listeners. “As China keeps growing, it is a market that can’t be ignored,” said Vahle.