The number of new podcasts grew by 150,000 during the first quarter of 2021. The podcast search engine Listen Notes says second quarter begins with 2,106,124 podcasts now available to listeners. That is an 11% increase from the end of 2020. And the number of episodes available for listeners totaled 98,851,692. That was a 9% increase.
Despite the gains, there are also early signs the torrid pace of new show launches seen during the pandemic may finally be slowing. Listen Notes data reveals a consecutive decrease in the number of new podcast launches during each month of the first quarter. In January it says 62,135 new podcasts debuted. That number fell to 54,866 in February. And in March the total is 33,828 – or nearly half as many as in January. If the current launch trend holds, it will mean 2021 will have fewer new show launches than in 2020 when 943,720 podcasts debuted according to Listen Notes. Still, it would handily beat 2019 when 315,731 shows bowed.
There is also no shortage of content for listeners. During the first three months of this year, Listen Notes says new and existing podcasts released 6,777,331 new episodes.
The flood of new podcasts in the past year has so far not brought what some believe will be the reverse trend – a flood of shows that come to an end. Listen Notes said 9,592 podcasts were considered “dead” in the first quarter. While a significant number, it still marks a slower pace than last year when 73,129 shows “died” or in 2019 when 47,599 podcasts went dark. 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.
Listen Notes data also shows that of the more than two million podcasts in existence, 612,187 released new episodes during the first quarter of 2021.
Two-thirds of all podcasts originate in the U.S. Not unexpectedly, most shows (64%) are in English. That is down from 73% at the end of 2019. It reflects the growing number of Spanish- and Portuguese-language podcasts. The tally shows one in ten podcasts are in Spanish with another six percent in Portuguese, driven by the fast-growing Brazilian podcast market. Indonesian (5%) and German (3%) round out the top five.
The top genre remains Society & Culture, which represented 13.4% of all shows. It is followed by Education (11.8%), Arts (9.1%), Religion & Spirituality (9.0%), Business (8.7%), Comedy (7.7%), Health & Fitness (6.0%), Music (5.2%), News (5.2%), Leisure (4.9%), and Sports (4.7%).
San Francisco-based Listen Notes was launched in 2017 by Webian Fang, who in the latest update to users says Listen Notes now has recently improved is system to deal with expletives entered into its search terms. It also added an annual offering to its membership plan.