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Weekly Podcast Listeners To Top 100 Million In 2023, Says eMarketer Forecast.

The number of podcast listeners continues to grow, but a new forecast from eMarketer suggests that the industry will likely need to be more proactive about bringing people into the medium in the years to come. That is because the rate at which podcast listening will climb is expected to slow.

The latest update from eMarketer estimates 98.4 million Americans are weekly podcast listeners today, an increase of 6.8% from a year ago. But that growth rate is less than half of last year’s growth rate and is 1.9 million fewer than what eMarketer had earlier forecast for weekly podcast listeners in 2022.

“We now expect weekly podcast listeners to make up 29.2% of the U.S. population, while monthly podcast listeners will make up 36.9%,” the firm says. “Overall, listening to podcasts continues to represent a significant portion of total digital audio consumption. The percentage of digital audio listeners who do not subscribe to podcasts will drop below 50% in 2023 for weekly listeners.”

On a monthly basis, eMarketer estimates that 124.5 million Americans now listen to podcasts. That is a five percent increase from a year ago. Yet it is also half of last year’s growth rate.

Looking ahead, eMarketer predicts that the number of weekly podcast listeners will grow by a still smaller 5.4% next year when the total is projected to reach 103.6 million. Analysts do expect growth to continue for the foreseeable future, however, with weekly listener numbers forecast to hit 119.4 million by 2026.

“Podcast growth is slowing in the U.S., but that’s merely a sign of the platform’s maturity. It still remains an opportunity with many advertisers who have overlooked the channel,” eMarketer says. “Despite a slight slowdown in podcast audience growth, the medium remains an underutilized advertising channel.”

It estimates advertisers will spend an average of $13.70 per podcast listener this year. That is roughly a quarter of the $52.10 they are estimated to spend per on-air radio listener. “That suggests there’s still plenty of runway for podcasting as an ad channel,” eMarketer says.

Podcasting’s slower growth figures can be seen in eMarketer’s latest projections for Spotify. While a slower rise in podcast listening this year has affected Spotify, eMarketer says its monthly podcast listeners will increase by 13.8% this year to 32.2 million, outpacing the five percent increase for overall monthly podcast listener growth rate.

Analysts also believe Spotify’s monthly active users (MAUs) are rising “a little more slowly” than anticipated. The firm’s projection for MAU growth has decreased from seven percent to six percent for 2022 as eMarketer now expects 88.4 million people will use Spotify this year.

This year, eMarketer anticipates a 5.8% increase in the number of Spotify premium subscribers, up 0.7% over its previous forecast. By year-end, it forecasts Spotify will have 49.3 million premium subscribers. Listeners in Spotify's ad-supporter tier are also expected to grow eight percent this year to 45.5 million. That indicates that more than a fifth, or 20.4%, of those who listen to digital audio are ad-supported Spotify users.

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