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PwC Forecasts 10% Annual Growth Rate For U.S. Podcast Ad Sales.

U.S. podcast revenue is projected to grow 15% this year and continue climbing through the next several years as the industry posts gains and approaches the $2 billion revenue mark, albeit at a pace slightly slower than previously predicted. PwC’s annual Global Entertainment & Media Outlook forecasts U.S. podcast revenue of $1.389 billion this year. And by 2027, PwC estimates podcast revenue will total $1.952 billion. “Over the next five years, revenue in the U.S. will increase at a 10.1% [compound annual growth rate] to reach close to $2 billion in 2027,” the report says. If accurate, that would represent a tripling of industry revenue from 2018 levels.

“Podcast adverts are generally well received by listeners, with 46% of monthly listeners stating that ads of this kind are not intrusive at all,” PwC says, noting Edison Infinite Dial research. It says the U.S. is home to the largest podcast advertising market globally, “dwarfing” second-place China, whose podcast industry had an estimated $374 million in revenue in 2022.

PwC says it is not only revenue that will continue to increase, but so will listeners. It projects that during the next five years the number of U.S. monthly podcast listeners will grow at an annual rate of 3.3%. By its estimates, that means monthly podcast listeners in the U.S. will climb from 157 million in 2022 to reach 185 million in 2027.

Yet it is China, not the U.S., where the largest population of podcast listeners resides. PwC says due to the sheer size of its population, China has the largest monthly listener base globally. Ximalaya is the largest audio platform in China, boasting an average daily usage time of 144 minutes. The U.S. may be second today, but PwC projects India will overtake it in 2024.

The number of monthly podcast listeners hit 992 million globally in 2022, up 14.9% on the previous year, the report says. PwC forecasts that during the next five years, the global listener base will grow at a 7.4% annual rate to 1.4 billion in 2027.

Even as podcast listening rates grow rapidly in India, it has a long way to go to overtake the U.S. in terms of podcast advertising. PwC says the U.S. is “by far” the largest podcast advertising market, accounting for 56% of global podcast ad revenue in 2022. The firm predicts “its dominance will endure” through the next five years. “In fact, just two markets, the U.S. and China, will account for around three-quarters of sector revenue in 2027,” says PwC.

On a global scale, podcast advertising is forecast to grow at a 9.6% annual rate as worldwide revenue climbs from $2.2 billion in 2022 to $3.4 billion in 2027. “While some of this growth is incremental, there will be a level of cannibalization of advertising revenue from other audio areas, particularly talk radio,” the report adds.

Radio Growing More Slowly Than Podcasting

Beyond podcasting, U.S. radio industry ad revenues are forecast to grow at a modest pace through 2027. PwC says broadcast radio’s combined over the air and online audio ad sales are on track to rise from $15.8 billion in 2022 to $16.6 billion in 2027, at a compound annual growth rate of 0.9%. When subscription revenue from satellite radio is factored in, total radio revenue is expected to increase from $21.9 billion in 2022 to $23.2 billion in 2027. That amounts to a compound annual growth rate of 1.2%.

That total $21.9 billion for last year makes the U.S. the world’s largest radio market by far, accounting for 53.5% of the radio segment’s global revenue.

“Despite the challenges coming from competing audio streaming services, radio still remains an extremely popular medium,” the report says. It cites Nielsen data showing AM/FM radio with a monthly reach of 93% of the U.S. adult 18+ population (234 million listeners), compared to 52% for streaming music services and 13% for satellite radio.

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