The number of new podcasts plunged last year with less than a third as many new series launches during 2022 as in the prior year. The podcast search engine Listen Notes says 214,592 new podcasts launched last year, down 70% from 728,630 launches in 2021. It was also the fewest new podcast launches since before the pandemic when 203,853 shows debuted in 2018.
The monthly pace of new show launches was especially slower during the fourth quarter. Listen Notes says 9,034 shows debuted in December, making it the lightest month of the year. That compares to last January when 23,804 launched—the most for any individual month during 2022.
Despite a slower pace of debuts, there is no shortage of things to listen to. Listen Notes says there are at least 3,006,025podcasts. It says the shows launched last year represent slightly more than seven percent of all podcasts. That follows a pandemic-powered flood of new show debuts during the two prior years. Its analysis shows 35% of all podcasts were launched in 2020 with another 25% in 2021.
This year the total could be even smaller, although the new year is off to a solid start. Listen Notes says 373 new podcasts have popped into existence since the year began.
Mirroring the slower pace of new shows, Listen Notes says last year also brought a smaller number of episode drops than the two prior years. It says 26 million new podcast episodes were released last year, a drop from 29 million in 2021 and 30 million in 2020. But unlike new shows debuts, the tally of episode drops remains above pre-pandemic levels. Listen Notes counted 18 million new episodes in 2019 and 18 million in 2018.
Fewer new podcasts debuting also came with fewer podcast deaths last year. Listen Notes says there were 39,264 podcasts that were considered dead, a decrease of 64% from 2021. It was a year earlier that marked the high water mark for deaths, however. Listen Notes says 117,124 podcasts came to an end in 2020. Listen Notes considers a show to have died when the RSS feed is deleted, or its iTunes “Completed” tag is marked “yes” by the publisher.
The numbers also shed light on the true competition that podcasters face. While Listen Notes says that more than three million podcasts now exist, the pool of active shows is significantly smaller. At year-end, it says about a quarter – or 690,013 podcasts -- were considered “active” during 2022. That is up from 674,261 in 2021 and 650,304 in 2020. It considers a show active if it published an episode during a specific year.
Similar to a year earlier, two-thirds of all podcasts in 2021 originated in the U.S. Not unexpectedly, most shows are in English. Listen Notes tabulates 60% were in English. That was steady with a year earlier. The tally shows 12% of shows were in Spanish, and seven percent were in Portuguese – also flat with 2021. Indonesian (5%) and German (3%) again rounded out the top five.
The top genre remained Society & Culture during 2022, which represented 13.7% of all shows. It is followed by Education (12.5%), Arts (9.4%), Business (8.9%), Religion & Spirituality (8.3%), Comedy (7.1%), Health & Fitness (6.2%), News (5.2%), Leisure (4.9%), Music (4.7%), Sports (4.4%), TV & Film (3.1%), Technology (2.5%), Kids & Family (2.1%), and Science (2.1%).
San Francisco-based Listen Notes was launched in 2017 by Webian Fang, who in the latest update to users says Listen Notes has just launched a new open-source project “microfeed.” It also integrated its podcast results on the search engine You.com.