9 Podcast Trends to Follow (2023-2025)
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Here are 9 podcasting trends that are shaping the industry this year and beyond.
According to the latest count, there are now 70 million podcast episodes. And over 5 million active shows.
And roughly 78% of the US population is now familiar with podcasting.
But the podcast industry is still growing...and changing.
Read on to see the major changes on the horizon.
1. Podcast Advertising Picks Up Steam
Podcast ad revenue is expected to grow to $2.2 billion in 2023.
A survey by Nielsen found that out of 7,000 US consumers, 78% don't mind ads or sponsorship messages in podcasts.
Searches for "podcast advertising" have climbed 766% in 10 years.
About 62% of listeners consider new products and services after hearing about them through podcast advertising.
And 80% listen to the majority of a podcast episode without skipping ads.
At the same time, there's also been increasing demand for transparency in podcast ads.
Companies are now utilizing tactics like adding tracking URLs to ads, identifying users through IP addresses, and tapping into analytics within platforms that track user behavior.
Tactics that many listeners aren't aware of.
And an update to the Overcast podcast app allows listeners to view services that podcasts are using to track and advertise to them.
Overcast has led the charge when it comes to podcast ad transparency.
2. Increased Competition Between Podcast Apps
Apple Podcasts was the top podcasting app, claiming 28.5 million monthly listeners of podcast app users.
But Spotify has taken its crown.
According to a Westwood One National Study, the average podcast listener in the US uses close to three different platforms.
And heavy listeners (6+ hours/week) use four services to consume podcast content.
Services like Google Podcasts, Podchaser, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and Anchor are all fighting for a piece of the industry.
Spotify and Apple Podcast are neck and neck as the market leaders.
Many of Spotify's 515 million listeners now listen to podcasts on the service.
Google searches for "Spotify podcasts" are up 6,000% in 5 years.
A 2021 report by Tech Crunch, estimated that Spotify would actually overtake Apple as the most popular podcasting platform.
One way Spotify is attracting users is through exclusive content.
So far, the company has invested around $1 billion in original podcasts.
That includes Gimlet Media, the podcast publisher that Spotify bought for a reported $230 million — the largest deal ever in the podcasting industry.
Spotify made headlines when they acquired Gimlet for $230 million.
Spotify isn't the only company investing in exclusive podcasts.
For example, Stitcher includes access to exclusive content in their Stitcher Premium service.
Search interest in "Luminary" has grown by 103% in 5 years.
Overcast, another popular podcast player, focuses more on advanced features rather than exclusive content.
For example, its "Smart Speed" feature increases listening speed by eliminating silence during pauses.
For its part, Apple isn't resting on its laurels.
In 2020, the tech giant acquired podcast creation startup Scout FM.
And Apple is also beginning to invest in original podcasts.
Amazon is a dark horse in the podcast platform battle royale.
Amazon acquired podcast startup Wondery in late 2020.
The sale was estimated to be worth between $300-$400 million.
And instantly made them a player in the podcast market.
3. Podcast Ads Are Getting Easier to Produce and Place
The growth in podcast ads is largely driven by increased podcast consumption worldwide.
That said, podcast advertising is also on the rise due to the fact that the barrier to entry has fallen.
For example, Spotify Advertising lets advertisers create voice ads out of text scripts for free.
And then place those ads on Spotify.
In the past, running a single podcast ad was somewhat labor-intensive.
An advertiser had to find relevant podcasts. Reach out to the host or manager. And negotiate a deal.
A fair amount of podcast advertising is still run that way.
Screenshot of Gumball's homepage.
These marketplaces are designed to make it easier to find podcast sponsorship opportunities (similar to what's currently happening with the influencer marketing space).
4. Podcasters Find New Ways to Monetize
Podcasters are increasingly on the hunt for new ways of monetizing beyond traditional ads.
For example, Luminary (which we mentioned earlier), has a Netflix model.
Instead of a free platform, Luminary charges users $4.99/month to access content.
And they pay podcast hosts directly to create content for their platform.
List of original podcasts on Luminary.
5. Live Podcasting Continues to Grow
The podcasting community has seen an increase in hosts that want to do live recordings.
Both to boost audience engagement and to create a new source of revenue.
Platforms like Podbean charge an admissions entry after a certain limit of listeners. While other events charge an average of $63 per ticket.
These live episodes can be in the form of interviews and Q&A sessions, contests, phone-in debates, and live coverage of events.
Example of a live podcast event.
Podcasting live events grew by over 2,000% between 2012 and 2019.
Popular live broadcasting options include Youtube Live, Facebook Live, Twitch, Castbox Livecast, and Zoom.
These are combined with dedicated streaming tools like StreamYard and Ecamm Live.
Searches for "StreamYard" have grown by 5,700% in 5 years.
6. Podcasters Tap Into New Growth Strategies
Podcast listening is on the rise.
But so is the level of competition.
In fact, there are currently approximately 5 million podcasts (compared to only 550k in 2018).
This is why podcasters are increasingly on the lookout for new ways to get their shows in front of new listeners.
One new strategy that more podcasters are tapping into is cross-promotion is one.
According to data from Mozilla, cross-promotion is one of the most effective ways of increasing listenership.
A Mozilla survey found that teaming up with other podcasts was an effective way to boost your podcast's audience.
An example of this trend is podcast swaps.
Podcast swaps are when two hosts take turns interviewing each other.
Then, each host simultaneously delivers the episode to their audiences.
Podcast swaps help new listeners discover shows in their niche they may not have discovered on their own.
This cross-pollination tactic has resulted in notable boosts in downloads and new subscribers.
For example, Darknet Diaries series saw an extra 100,000 downloads the month it participated in two episode swaps.
We're also seeing podcasters distribute their podcast content on social media using tools like Wavve.
Podcast distribution tool Wavve has increased in popularity by 3,850% over the last 5 years.
Specifically, they're pulling out audio or video clips from each episode.
And sharing those clips on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
For example, podcaster Tim Ferriss creates dozens of audio clips from each long-form podcast episode.
And uses those clips to get in front of potential listeners.
Example of a podcast clip being shared on Twitter.
7. Podcast Listeners Crave Learning
Research shows that podcast audiences are young, educated, and affluent: three demographic features that many advertisers crave.
The largest and fastest growing age group of listeners is between 12-34 years old.
And 61% of regular listeners in the US have a 4-year college degree, postgraduate degree, or advanced degree.
Podcast listeners are among the highest sought-after demographics in the US.
In general, podcast listeners in the US are 20% more likely to have attended college compared to the general population.
Knowing that, it should come as no surprise that many podcast listeners want to use podcasts as a way to learn, stay informed, and gain inspiration.
For example, Andreessen Horowitz funded startup Knowable is essentially "MasterClass for audio".
And they currently have a library of courses focused on learning new skills, including public speaking, marketing, and finance.
In fact, there was a significant growth of educational podcast listening at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Educational podcasts are a fast-growing genre that includes shows like TED Radio Hour, Freakonomics, and Radiolab.
Shows in this genre tend to be framed by academic research, which 40% of listeners crave.
8. Listeners Use Podcast Content In New Ways
Research by Reuters found that people generally listen to podcasts for entertainment and learning.
However, we're seeing audio content being used in completely new ways. Which is creating entirely new podcast categories.
For example, listeners are increasingly turning to podcast to help boost their mood.
In fact, Deezer study concluded that 38% of US respondents listen to podcasts to improve their mood.
They also report that demand for relationship podcasts are up 145% compared to the previous year: another new use-case for the medium.
9. Creators Tap Into Professional Podcasting Tools
Like any mature industry, podcasting is developing a set of tools specific to the medium.
Fore example, searches for the term "podcast microphone" have increased significantly over the last five years.
Searches for “podcast microphone” have increased by 96% over the last 5 years.
Dozens of podcast microphones, like Shure, Neat King Bee, and the Rode Procaster, are now competing to meet surging demand.
We’re also seeing a number of podcast-first audio editing software products enter the market.
A leader in that space is Descript, which combines transcription and audio editing into a single platform.
Descript's search growth is up 388% over 2-year span.
Descript’s “Overdub” feature allows podcasters to edit their episode using the text-based transcription.
Then, the tool translates those changes into audio using an AI-powered tool that simulates the speaker’s actual voice.
Descript's "overdub" feature designed for editing podcast episodes.
Podcast hosting is another growing subcategory in this space.
Emerging podcast hosting brands include Buzzsprout, Anchor.fm, and Podbean.
Search growth for Buzzsprout is up 857% over the last 5 years.
While specialized podcast products are cropping up left and right, there are also a growing number of “all in one” solutions for pro podcasters.
These combine podcast hosting, editing, transcription, and show note pages.
I hope you enjoyed our list of the 9 key podcast trends for 2023-2025.
From tools to new platforms, the podcasting space is ever-changing.
And thanks to large investments in the space, we can expect more trends to take hold in the near future.