Podcast Audience Exploding

Brett Robinson, vice president of Ad Operations in National Public Media, shares advertising statistics.
Photo by Bailey Cline

About one in three Americans listen to podcasts monthly, according to Brett Robinson, vice president of ad operations for National Public Media. That’s about 90 million people regularly listening to online stations, Robinson said.

Professionals met Monday at the News Leaders Association Conference to discuss the topic. Panelists explained how the business has been booming in recent years.

Robinson said there are 750,000 podcasts on Apple products, and 60 percent of podcast growth comes from Apple. In the last seven to eight months, though, Spotify bought some of the bigger podcast companies (Gimlet, Parcast and Anchor) and has doubled its podcast audience in just the last six months.

N’Jeri Eaton, director of programming and new audiences, explained how podcasts generally start with a small team and grow as needed. More and more listeners join  podcasts every year, she said. 

N’Jeri Eaton, director of Programming and New Audiences, speaks about how podcast audiences are growing every year.
Photo by Bailey Cline

“Creating something like a weekly podcast is a monster,” Eaton said.

Sponsorship is important to keep podcasts online, Robinson emphasized. In the past, direct response advertisers such as Blue Apron or ZipRecruiter funded podcasts because the technical capabilities for measuring downloads wasn’t essential to their product. 

“It’s only as the medium has matured in the last few years that has gotten the attention of some of the blue chip companies,” Robinson said.

Major publishing companies joined the Internet Advertising Bureau a couple years ago and created a universal standard for how to count downloads, Robinson said. 

From an advertising standpoint, a podcast’s potential is reliant on how many people listen to it, how often it comes out, and how much it charges, Robinson said.

There have been efforts to create podcasts not reliant on advertising. Luminary charges a monthly fee to watch or listen to podcasts. It hasn’t seen a lot of success yet, but Robinson suggests this may change soon.

“I think advertising models still rule the land, but it’ll be interesting to see in the next few years,” Robinson said. “Good content is always going to rule the day,” Robinson said.

Bailey Cline is a senior at Ball State University studying Journalism and Telecommunications. She graduates in 2020. You can reach her at bacline@bsu.edu or on Twitter @BaileyCline.

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