The intersection of the podcast industry building on a decade of growth momentum with a global pandemic that forced people around the world to explore new creative outlets has resulted in the creation of more podcasts in the first six months of 2020 than in all of last year. There are at least 1,350,130 podcasts and 74,379,420 episodes in the world, according to the podcast search engine Listen Notes.
During the first half of the year, 383,678 new podcasts debuted. That is not only more than the 273,502 that debuted in 2019, but it also represents nearly a third (29%) of all podcasts in existence based on Listen Notes data.
More podcasts logically results in more episodes being released. But the numbers point to the pace of releases accelerating during the first half with existing shows releasing more content while the number of daily podcasts continues to grow. Listen Notes says 13.2 million podcast episodes were published during the first six months compared to 16.6 million in all of 2019. Not only is that on track to establish another new industry record, but the data also reveals that three-quarters of all podcast episodes have been published during the past four years.
The data also shows that a slight majority of podcasts (51%) have been active so far this year. That is in comparison to only 14% of podcasts that were considered active in 2019. Listen Notes defines a show as active if its latest episode is published in that year. The number of so-called “dead podcasts” – which it puts at 24,517 so far – is also tracking lower than last year. That number is currently 1.8% for the first half compared to 2.9% for all of 2019.
Two-thirds of all podcasts originate in the U.S. Not unexpectedly, most shows are in English. Listen Notes tabulates 70% of podcasts are in English, a number that’s slipped three percentage points since earlier this year. The big jump has been among Spanish-language podcasts, which now represent 7% of all shows – a 75% increase since March. There has been a similar surge in Portuguese-language podcasts as the Brazilian market has become one of the biggest in the world. Listen Notes says 4.3% of podcasts are in Portuguese, with Indonesian (3.7%) and German (2.8%) rounding out the top five.
The top genre remains Society & Culture, which represented 13.3% of all shows. It is followed by Education (10.1%), Religion & Spirituality (10.0%), Business (8.5%) Arts (8.2%), Comedy (8.0%), Music (6.1%), Health & Fitness (5.9%), Sports (5.2%) and News (5.0%).
San Francisco-based Listen Notes was launched in 2017 by Webian Fang, who in recent months has added several new features and updates to the service in order to help better monetize the company’s data. Those include launching a membership feature. It also closed down its transcription feature, which allowed anyone to order a transcript of the show which was posted on Listen Note’s website. In a update to users, Fang said that angered some podcasters over copyright concerns. The decision probably wasn’t too difficult though, since Fang admitted it was a “money losing business” since they needed to hire an outside company to produce the transcripts.