Podcasts: Past, Present, Future

Podcasts, an on-demand audio broadcast hosted for free on the internet, have emerged as a major opportunity for advertisers to reach a captive audience. The word ‘podcast’ originated in the early 2000s, as a combination of the Apple iPod and the word broadcast. At the time, podcasts were available through the iTunes store and downloaded by listeners onto their personal devices to listen to on-the-go or at a convenient time. Since then, podcasting has evolved into a major player in the audio arena and podcasts are now available on all types of internet-equipped devices.

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Podcasts are popular among all generations, with close to 25% of the US adult population listening to at least one podcast in the last month.

In 2006, 22% of the US adult population knew what a podcast was, but by 2017, 60% were aware of the podcast popularity. Of that 60%, 96% of those surveyed aged 18-29 were familiar as well as 93% of those surveyed aged 60+. The medium proves interesting to listeners due to its great accessibility. Firstly, podcasts are free to download. There are no prohibitive income barriers like what can be found with other formats: all you need is an internet connection. Secondly, podcasts are portable, they are available on mobile and tablet devices.

One of the reasons podcasts are so popular? Well, upon downloading the content, they afford the listener the freedom to listen on their own schedule: whenever or wherever. Research shows that the majority of users choose to listen to their podcasts on portable devices, however, one-third of listeners opt to listen via desktop, particularly while working as a distraction-free way to pass the day.

Researchers predict that in 2019 there will be 79 million podcast listeners in the US alone. By 2021, that figure is expected to grow to 112 million listeners. Podcasts have shown tremendous growth since their accessibility through hand-held devices in 2004, with no signs of slowing down. New podcasts are created weekly and new creators are continuously entering the market. Podcasts also offer a unique opportunity where advertisers can be exposed to loyal, affluent, and educated listeners. Several advertisers are already present on podcasts – and the number keeps growing as it is a market that one cannot ignore.