Digital Trends in Podcasting 2022

Posted on Apr 16 2022 9:30 AM


Sometimes it feels like podcasts are new on the digital scene. In reality, they started appearing as “audio blogs” as far back as the 1980s but took hold in the early 2000s with MP3 players and the rise of the iPod. However, there is no doubt that podcasts have exploded in popularity in the last few years and are now consistently in the popular conscience. Just take for example the recent series “Only Murders in the Building” which centered around podcasting. This is one of many recent examples of how familiar podcasts have become and the burgeoning media crossover.

Explosive Growth of Podcasts

There are different ways of ascertaining how many podcasts “exist” as they’re not all centralized. Some podcasts are now exclusively available on particular platforms and not all podcasts get distributed to Apple Podcasts or major listening apps/directories. However, ListenNotes estimates there are about 2.2 million podcasts (2022), while other sources cite over 3 million podcasts. Many of these, however, have few episodes and may not be active. 

Regardless of exact numbers, this represents massive growth. Similar estimates from 2020 showed around 700,000 podcasts.

Podbean serves as one of the major podcast hosting providers (where podcasters upload and store content for it to then be distributed out to various apps). From 2020 to 2021, the number of podcasts hosted on Podbean grew from around 500,000 to over 600,000. The number of new podcasts on the platform has steadily grown since 2007 when Podbean started hosting podcasts, but the last three years have shown exponential growth. For 2022, the trend thus far is continuing in the same manner.

Corresponding Growth of Listening

Podcast Listening Data:

  • In 2022, 62% of the population 12+ has listened to a podcast and roughly 78% are aware of podcasts (Statista). Statista measured this in 2006 and the percentage was only 22% then!
  • 73% of the U.S. population has listened to audio online in the last month (Edison Research, The Infinite Dial 2022).
  • Statista estimates that there were 383.7 million podcast listeners across the globe in 2021, expected to rise by over 420 million this year.

Podbean’s podcast data reflects this strong growth in listening. Podbean podcasts’ monthly download numbers are currently increasing by approximately 20% on average across all podcasts hosted on the platform.

Podcast Advertising: Growing and Changing

Podcast ad spending is forecast to grow 45% to $1.13 billion in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing the $1 billion mark for the first time (eMarketer). The growth will give podcasts 21% of the U.S. digital radio ad market.

Podbean operates an advertising marketplace, where brands can run ad campaigns on a variety of podcasts. In the last 3 months, the revenue generated by podcasts in the Podbean Podcast Advertising Marketplace has risen by 25%.

Additionally, the advertising options for podcasting have been getting more sophisticated and varied. Programmatic ad buying has increased. Many platforms offer dynamic ad insertion technology, like Podbean’s PodAds, which allows geo-targeting, timed campaigns, and easy tools to change out content and run various ads. Spotify and other players are adding features like call-to-action cards and more interactive podcast advertising experiences.

Corporate Podcasts: “The New Blog”

Companies and organizations are following these trends in podcasting and increasingly starting their own podcasts. As Podbean’s CEO, David Xu, shares, “I expect podcasts to become a must-have for corporations, much as they view blogs today.”

Many companies are using podcasts for marketing, brand awareness, thought leadership, and customer/lead communications. Additionally, the medium is often being used internally at organizations for training, internal communications, onboarding, and more. Podbean’s Pro platform serves this customer base with a secure podcast solution. Annual growth has been strong since launching several years ago and customers include all industries, educational institutions, non-profits, and organizations of all sizes.

Podbean clients share their corporate podcasting case studies, which range from a political party sharing updates with members to several companies focused on sales enablement. Many are tapping into podcasts’ storytelling power for sharing employee or client stories with their internal and/or external audience.

“There will continue to be not only growth in numbers in podcasting but development in the sophistication of the content and medium,” predicts David Xu, Podbean CEO.

As the number of podcasts grows, competition becomes fiercer and is driving creativity and professionalism. It is still an open medium, allowing individuals to innovate and not be held back by gatekeepers, so the space is also diversifying. Podcasting is growing fastest in some of the countries where it has been the least well-known.

Additionally, apps and services continue developing more tools and features for podcasters and listeners. While almost everyone expects podcasting to continue growing, the way it will evolve in the next few years is bound to be interesting.