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Welcome back to #GoodData͏📊, where we explore podcast industry data stories into actionable insights.
For the audio industry, which has a lot of middle-child, “please-don’t-leave-me-behind-at-the- grocery-store” energy—the past few years have been all about securing a seat at the table. Or rather, making a case that audio deserves top billing alongside video, social, and digital.
Today, if you look at the biggest media publishers in the United States, having an audio strategy has gone from optional or “cute and innovative” to essential to compete. But now that podcasting has won over the hearts and minds (see: wallets) of American media moguls, let’s step outside of ourselves and explore how podcast listening is growing abroad.
What’s the appetite for podcast listening worldwide?
According to an eMarketer study released in October 2021 and shared by Statista, the number of worldwide podcast listeners has nearly doubled since 2019 – with market researchers forecasting even more global audience growth by 2024.
- 2019: 274.8 million worldwide monthly podcast listeners
- 2022: 424.2 million worldwide monthly podcast listeners
- 2024: 504.9 million worldwide monthly podcast listeners
Why should American publishers care about growing non-US audiences?
In the chorus of her total banger, _“Up,”_ Cardi B says: “If it’s up, then it’s up, then it’s up, then it’s stuck.” The jury’s out on whether these lyrics were written specifically about the US podcast audience’s growth trajectory, but they certainly do apply! And here’s why:
Creators in the US have contributed the most to the world’s existing library of English-language podcasts. So it’s no surprise, with so much English-language podcast content available, that the US leads the world in monthly podcast listenership.
- United States: ~117.8 million monthly podcast listeners OR 40% of US monthly internet users
- China: ~85.6 million monthly podcast listeners OR ~6% of China’s total population
- Europe: ~77.8 million monthly podcast listeners OR ~17% of Europe’s total population
- Note: Sweden, home of Spotify, leads Europe with ~34.6% of monthly internet users listening to podcasts
Pulling from the same eMarketer report, what’s striking about US podcast listeners is how this audience has taken to podcasts at an unprecedented velocity.
- 2015: 14.2% of the US population will listen to a podcast at least 1x per month
- 2021: 35.2% of the US population will listen to a podcast at least 1x per month < 20% growth in just ~5 years
With the base so high, experts expect this wave of rapid audience growth and adoption within the US market will slow down over the next few years. Now, this isn’t a bad thing. If anything, it means that podcasting has finally entered the mainstream. As Cardi said, it was up and up and now it’s stuck. But these burgeoning international audiences hold promise. If US podcast publishers can translate existing shows into new languages and market them to a rapidly growing pool of international listeners, there’s a major growth opportunity here.
So, which countries are listening to podcasts the most?
In Western Europe, Spain appears to lead monthly podcast consumption amongst internet users by a hair. Analysts have attributed podcast adoption in Spain to a combination of strategic digital distribution tactics led by Spain’s largest audio companies, along with the vast array of Spanish-language podcasts available from other countries.
How popular are Spanish-language podcasts?
Back in 2020, The Bello Collective did a great profile on howRadio Ambulante forged its own path to success. As the piece by Charlie Clarke details, in the beginning, the idea of a Spanish-language podcast was not well-received by executives at legacy media companies. Back in 2012, when the co-founders Daniel Alarcón, Carolina Guerrero, Martina Castro and Annie Correal began putting the show in motion, decision-makers weren’t convinced that Spanish speakers in Mexico or Spain would turn to an American-made Spanish-language program over their local broadcasts.
Flash forward a decade later, and boy, were those suits wrong. Content has become borderless. Radio Ambulante is one of the most popular Spanish-language podcasts, garnering nearly a million downloads per month – with listeners tuning in from across the globe.
Edison Research’s US Latino Podcast Listener Report 2021 further corroborates this growing market appetite for Spanish-language programming. Last year’s report showed that 33% of U.S. Latinos say they have ever listened to a podcast mostly in Spanish (this is a dramatic increase from 24% in 2020).
Where else are podcasts picking up steam?
Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism conducted a digital survey to uncover the percentage of monthly podcast listeners 18+ from across more than twenty countries. (p28). Interestingly, the United Kingdom falls at the bottom of this list—even though I’ve heard many podcast industry people express that the UK has the most mature podcast market in all of Europe. I guess this is true if you define maturity by the number of production companies and/or monetization tools available in English. But, when you remove those parameters—this study demonstrates how non-English speaking countries are blowing the Brits out of the water with their podcast listenership.
- The US podcast market is undoubtedly the most mature in terms of audience reach and revenue. But experts are expecting that audience growth will soon plateau in the states, while non-US markets will experience rapid growth – comparable to how Americans adopted podcasts into their lives over the past five years.
- English publishers looking to reach non-US audiences and hop in on the international action should start prioritizing translating their most evergreen podcasts into multiple languages. Publishers like Adonde Media, Wondery, and even Sounds Profitable are already prioritizing Spanish language podcasts.
Sounds Profitable exists thanks to the continued support of our amazing sponsors. Each sponsor receives one hour of consulting per month as a way to say thanks.
- The All Ears English Podcast helps global professionals communicate better across cultures for international business and travel.
- Libsyn is the premier Podcasting As A Service platform that provides all the creation, distribution and monetization tools podcasters need to share their passion, tell their stories and change the world.
Market Insights with Magellan AI
This week we are spotlighting Omaha Steaks, which has been advertising on podcasts since 2017. Since it first started advertising, it has run close to 3000 ads on over 200 podcasts. Omaha Steaks primarily runs 90s host-read mid-roll ads, mostly on Sports and News shows which made up over 80% of the shows Omaha Steaks ran ads on in June 2022.
Since 2018 Omaha Steaks has increased its spend, relative to other months, in June and December. In June 2022 Omaha Steaks increased its spend from $100k in May to over $500k in June, an increase of over 400%. Primarily driving these increases are holidays; Father’s Day in June and Christmas/New Year in December. This is evidenced by its ad reads, in which hosts mention that Omaha Steaks make a great gift for Father’s Day or Christmas, depending on the season. We wanted to highlight Omaha Steaks this week because it is a great example of a seasonal advertiser whose spending habits become easy to predict with Magellan AI’s spend data.
For more insights like this, sign up to join the June 15-minute monthly update today at 11.30am ET.
Anatomy of an Ad with ThoughtLeaders
Sponsoring brand: Maui Moisture
Who else has sponsored this podcast? BetterHelp, Athletic Greens, First Republic Bank, and Magic Spoon
Why it works: This is the ultimate pairing—a haircare brand partnering with a podcaster that struggles with her “big bouncy head of curly hair”. Listeners obviously turn to this podcast to hear about all things Latina, and hair is one important topic they cover. So, the brand obviously reaches its ideal target audience.