It only took 15 years but podcasts are finally beginning to catch on. The past two years have been something of a turning point for the podcast industry. The medium has existed in some form since the early years of the millennium but only recently has it made a decisive entrance into the mainstream.
The industry has changed a lot since 2005, when Apple first introduced more than 3k unpaid podcasts onto iTunes. As of January this year there were more than 850k podcasts (that’s around 30 mn episodes) listed on iTunes. Much of this growth has occurred in the past couple of years: Back in February 2018 there were around 500k active podcasts, meaning the number of podcasts has expanded by 70% in just 23 months. The expansion of the industry has been accompanied by a surge in listener growth. The number of weekly listeners in the US more than tripled to 62 mn between 2013 and 2019.
The rise of the celebrity podcast: Part of this growth can be put down to an influx of celebrities hopping on the podcasting bandwagon. Back in 2017, just 15% of the 20 most-downloaded podcasts on Apple featured celebrity hosts. One year later this had grown to 32%, with almost half of the top 25 new podcasts being celebrity-hosted.
All of this means that the industry is set to keep growing: As the number of podcasts continues to expand and the number of listeners grows, the commercial viability of the sector will only increase. Ad revenues in the US, which totaled USD 479 mn in 2018, are expected to surpass USD 1 bn by 2021 (pdf).
We couldn’t publish an issue about podcasts without a shameless plug: Of course, one of our favorite podcasts has to be Making It: The brand new Enterprise show that quizzes the CEOs and founders of some of Egypt’s most promising businesses on how they made it big. Mixing serious business talk with personal stories, Making It’s first eight-episode season is available via our website, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.