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Forecast: Podcasting’s Audience To Top 105 Million In 2019.

Pointing to what it calls “tremendous” audience growth for podcasting last year, analysts at eMarketer have significantly increased their outlook for how many listeners the medium will have in 2020 and during the next few years.

It expects the total reach of podcasting in the U.S. to reach 105.6 million listeners this year, a boost from the 78.9 million listener estimate it released earlier. The forecast was finalized prior to the coronavirus pandemic as quarantine measures altered podcast listening habits. But eMarketer says that despite the disruption it expects the U.S. podcast audience will grow 14.8% this year. “We expect listening habits will return to normal in the second half of the year,” said Forecasting Analyst Peter Vahle, “so that by the end of 2020, we’ll see the strong growth in podcast listeners we were anticipating.”

It wasn’t difficult to see a revision was required. The firm earlier predicted there would be 76.4 million podcast listeners last year but now says its tally missed the mark by more than 15 million. It estimates there were 92 million monthly podcast listeners in the U.S. last year. Analysts expect reach gains to continue through 2022, although at slowly declining growth rates.

Beyond just hit shows, eMarketer credits new ways to access podcasts for the stronger-than-expected growth rate. That includes more consumers using smart speakers and streaming audio services. In a blog post the firm points out that the number of smart speaker users grew 22% last year to more than 73 million. At the same time the number of digital audio listeners surpassed 206 million.

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