July 7, 2022

4 Reasons Why Podcasts Are Becoming More Popular

Tae Haahr

Podcasts are only getting more popular. What used to be a little-known medium to get your true crime fix (I’m lookin’ at you Serial) is now major business. 

Listening to podcasts used to be kind of a nerdy thing. You talked about your favorite shows on Reddit, maybe joined a Facebook group or two. But no one outside of your podcasting community knew what you were talking about (not your mom and definitely not your grandma!).

Then COVID hit and Netflix simply couldn’t add bingeable content fast enough — OK, maybe this isn’t the case, but people discovered podcasts en masse. It turns out that while you can’t really watch copious amounts of Criminal Minds and Law and Order while you work and actually get work done, most of us can listen to podcasts.

Here we are two years later, and businesses and advertisers see dollar signs when it comes to podcasts.  

How much have podcasts grown?

Podcasting is predicted to be a $4-billion industry by 2024. That means bigger opportunities for podcasters of all sizes, and more access for listeners, regardless of what they’re interested in.

But is podcasting really growing at the rate everyone seems to be saying?

It’s predicted that there will be 125 million podcast listeners in the United States by 2024. Listener growth worldwide has shot up since 2019 when there were an estimated 274.8-million listeners.

While the US alone is predicted to hit 125 million, worldwide that number is expected to be a whopping 504.9-million.

All of that taken into consideration, I think it’s safe to say that podcasts are becoming pretty popular.

But why are podcasts becoming more popular?

Podcasting is becoming more popular, but it’s not for a single reason. There are plenty of ways that podcasts not only enrich lives but provide us with the content experience we’re looking for. That said, I think these are the four biggest contributors:

1. Free entertainment

Podcasts don’t cost a penny to listen to, unless you want to access your favorite creator’s paywalled content. But there are so many options out there, those looking to save their hard-earned dollars certainly don’t need to. 

We are seeing more podcasting networks put the majority of their content behind a paywall or require the use of paid services (like Spotify) to access it. But even the increased amount is a minuscule fraction of the accessible content.

2. Provide an on-demand experience

Free is great, but free and whenever you want it is better.

Like Netflix and Hulu, podcasting offers an opportunity for listeners to enjoy what they want, when they want it. Unlike a good ole radio show, with a podcast you don’t have to sit around and wait for the weekly time slot.

Listeners can download and binge. Or they can subscribe to their favorite shows, and have them downloaded and delivered without any work on their part.

Podcasts are one of the easiest entertainment and learning experiences to consume on your own terms. Who wouldn’t love that?

3. Perfect for on-the-go

Podcasts are also popular due to their ability to be packed up and taken on the go. By “packaged up” I clearly mean downloaded, and by “taken” I mean they’re usually on your mobile device, so they go where you go.

Unlike a television show or a book, a podcast doesn’t have to interrupt your daily activities. In many cases — like when you’re cleaning the house or making dinner — they can actually add to your activities.

While they’re not an appropriate multitasking partner for everything, there are a lot of situations where podcasts can make a mundane activity better.

4. Find your niche community

I’d say podcast listeners are a rare breed, but let’s be honest — there are so many out there that “rare” probably isn’t an accurate descriptor.

However, there is a podcast (or 17) out there for everyone. Those podcasts usually come with a dedicated audience of your people. The growing podcasting community allows listeners to connect with podcasters and audience members alike, on topics that they love.

As much as podcasting is about entertainment, it’s also about finding and building communities.

Are podcasts the future?

With all this growth, you’re probably wondering where podcasting is heading. Podcasts, like other forms of media and entertainment, are constantly changing. As their popularity increases, so too does the competition and the way we consume them.

Right now we’re seeing a bigger emphasis on the marriage between audio-only and video content, and I think that’s going to continue. While audio-only podcasts are unique in that you can truly enjoy them on the go, there is something to be said about seeing your favorite creators in action.

Podcasts are here to stay (in my humble opinion), at least for the time being, but the landscape will probably look very different in a few years than it does today. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

Are you itching to get into the podcast game before it gets too fancy? Alitu makes it really easy for you to record and publish great content. Not to mention, there are a few great (and totally free) courses you can get into to get you started!

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