A SPIKE IN NEW PODCASTS | Top Podcast Trends of 2020 & What’s Next for 2021?

new podcasts

A SPIKE IN NEW PODCASTS | Top Podcast Trends of 2020 & What’s Next for 2021?

This article, “A Spike in New Podcasts”, is part of a series created from the Ossa Lounge LIVE show at Podcast Movement Virtual on October 20, 2020, “Rogan, Rona, and ROI: 2020 Podcast Trends & What’s Next for 2021?”

Did you know that more new podcasts launched in first half of 2020 than in ALL of 2019?

During the first half of the year, 383,678 new podcasts were published. Comparatively, a total of 273,502 podcasts debuted in all of 2019.

The most amazing part? The number of new podcasts launched in the first half of 2020 represents nearly one-third (29%) of all podcasts in existence, according to ListenNotes.

Alban Brooke, Head of Marketing at Buzzsprout, confirmed this spike in the number of new podcasts in the first half of 2020. The podcast hosting platform saw a 30% increase in the number of new podcasts being created. 

Not surprisingly, the spike in new podcasts correlated with a record number of new episodes published in the first half of 2020 — but new shows weren’t the only force at play. During the first half of 2020, existing podcasts also contributed to the increase in new episodes for two main reasons: (1) a higher number of existing podcasts released bonus content, and (2) more podcasts switched their weekly or biweekly show over to a daily (or more frequent) publication schedule.

According to Listen Notes’ data, there were 16.6 million podcast episodes published in all of 2019, whereas an impressive 13.2 million podcast episodes have aired so far this year in Q1 & Q2 alone. This easily puts the podcast industry on track to set yet another record, this time for the number of podcast episodes published in a single year.

The Listen Notes data shows a significant spike in the number of new podcasts that correlates with the onset of COVID and the associated shelter-in-place orders put into effect throughout the U.S.

With many activities outside the home put on hold, people in quarantine were looking for new ways to stay mentally stimulated and fill their time at home. Podcasting, which was already growing in popularity prior to COVID, was primed and ready to become the creative outlet of choice for those in quarantine who wanted to avoid boredom by exploring a new hobby that would help them to feel more connected and fulfilled.

Another probable catalyst for the spike in the number of new podcasts during the first half of 2020 was the release of several new podcasts hosted by high-profile celebrities. Major names like Michelle Obama, Kim Kardashian-West, Mark and Jay Duplass and Hillary Clinton were just some of the many A-listers that put news of their exclusive deals with Spotify for new podcasts in the headlines, which likely had a trickle-down effect on the excitement surrounding podcasts for the larger population.

new podcasts

Unlike so many opportunities that are only accessible to A-list celebrities and the like, podcasting is accessible to everyone. Nearly anyone with an internet connection and a microphone can start a show that sits alongside the shows hosted and produced by household names. It is possible to start a podcast with an initial investment of $100 or less, which gives podcasting a lot of appeal to new creators who may be apprehensive about spending large sums of money on new hobbies in the shaky COVID economy.

The spike in the number of new podcasts may also relate to the increased experimentation with limited series podcasts and increased crossover amongst various forms of media like TV, film, podcasts & radio. When safety concerns over the spread of COVID began to shut down production on many TV and film sets in the first half of 2020, podcasts — which can be produced remotely — became a safer media alternative to tv and film, and a much-needed way for many performers to make money during quarantine.

What’s next for 2021?

We expect to see the growth in the number of new podcasts to continue well into 2021, especially if the current projected increase in COVID transmission rates this winter prove to be accurate. There were about 550,000 podcasts in 2018 and around 1.5 million podcasts published to date. Based on this data, we expect that the number of podcasts will surpass 2 million by next year.

It is also likely that we will see an increasing number of businesses, both large and small, launching their own podcasts, or even their own mini-networks of shows related to their brand.

Unquestionably, 2021 will bring about some unforeseen twists and turns, but all signs are pointing to a year of strong growth for the podcast industry.

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