The podcast industry has grown astronomically worldwide over the past couple of years. Its popularity took off during the height of the pandemic, when many people found themselves with lots of free time to listen to and record podcasts, and it has been taking off ever since. The ability to listen to podcasts while doing chores, cooking, and driving creates an immense amount of flexibility for listeners. It can be put on in the background of almost any task, drawing more people in towards audio content.

Along with this, podcasts offer the freedom of content variety for listeners. Many people grow bored of listening to top hits on the radio or the same radio shows aired. There are over 2 million independent podcasts, offering listeners an unlimited number of options. Some common podcast categories include are controversy, informational, interview, panel, theatrical (fiction/narrative story-telling), repurposed content, and improv.

There can also be multiple hosts on some podcasts, such in as solo or cohosted types. Some leading podcast publishers worldwide include iHeartPodcasts, Wondery, NPR, the New York Times, Daily Wire, and NBC News. iHeartPodcasts had over 377.24 million streams and downloads in June 2023 alone. In the first quarter of 2022, iHeartMedia generated more than 69 million dollars in revenue. 

As a result of the vast directions podcasts can take, they also offer creative freedom to many podcasters. Content creators also have the opportunity to talk about important topics that may be considered taboo in society, for example. This variety can create a safe space and a sense of community for listeners who identify with the experiences and want to feel seen.

There were more than 424 million podcast listeners worldwide in 2023, a notable increase from 274.8 million in 2019. Additionally, the industry is projected to grow to 464.7 million by the end of the year, accounting for 22% of all internet users. Another reason behind this growth is an increase in a younger demographic in the consumer base. The largest age group of podcast listeners is twelve to twenty-four years old, creating high potential for future growth within the industry. The podcasting industry has been an established market in the United States and United Kindom for a while; the United States has over 100 million podcast listeners, more than any other country worldwide. However, there has also been tremendous growth in other European countries. The number of podcasting downloads has increased 379% in France, 298% in Spain, and 244% in Italy.

Not only do podcasts benefit listeners, but they also benefit the economy. The primary source of revenue for the podcast industry comes from advertisements, so as popularity and viewership increases, so does revenue. One example can be seen in Spotify. With 41 million podcast users, which accounts for 28.6% of the market, Spotify is second only to Apple Podcasts in having the highest number of podcast listeners worldwide. Spotify offers listeners over 5 million podcast options, some of which are exclusively able to listen to on Spotify, such as “The Joe Rogan Experience." This podcast started in 2009 and now is one of the most popular podcasts in the world, with over 2,000 episodes and averages about 11 million listeners per podcast. Spotify is expected to increase its podcast ad revenue by 49% in 2023 and reach a total of 286.5 million dollars.

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