Before we dig into the podcast outlook, how about a little history? The term “podcast” first appeared in the media in February 2004, in an article by Ben Hammersley published in the Guardian. Ben described podcasts as a downloadable amateur radio show, audio blogging, or gorilla media. The term podcasting stuck around when Libsyn launched a podcast hosting platform in the same year.

Podcasts further gained popularity in 2005 when Steve Jobs announced that iTunes would host a library of over 3,000 podcasts. In July the same year, George W Bush delivered his weekly address via a podcast, and in August, This Week in Tech won the first People’s Choice Award for the best podcasts category. By the end of 2005, the new Oxford American dictionary added the word “podcast” and named it the word of the year.

Podcasting has continued to grow over the years and is expected to keep doing so. According to Statista, podcast audiences in 2021 reached 120 million listeners, and this number is expected to surpass 160 million by 2023.

What is a Podcast?

A podcast is a pre-recorded audio talk show hosted online and available to listeners on-demand. The audience can listen online or download the episodes on their phone, laptop, or PC. Podcasters can host their show on different platforms for distribution and access by their audience.

Podcasts can be run by individuals, companies, annotations, radio networks, storytellers, comedians, etc. They vary in length, format, style, and production level. Most podcasts are niche-specific.

There are different podcast format options to explore, including:

  • Interview Podcast. Involve at least two people – a podcast host and a guest. Podcasters like Joe Rogan and Marc Maron have found great success using this format. There could be multiple hosts or guests. Their main aim is to provide expert-level information or a wider range of opinions regarding a given topic. The interviews could also be persona-focused whereby the guest tells interesting stories about their lives.
  • Conversation Podcast. They involve co-hosts who have entertaining conversations about certain topics. They may include a guest or not.
  • Monologue or Solo Podcast. These podcasts have one host who talks throughout the show about a given topic.
  • Roundtable Podcast. They are panel-like shows whereby the host guides a group of guests through a conversation or commentary around a specific topic.
  • Fictional Podcast. Also known as theatrical, scripted, or narrative podcasts, these podcasts tell a fictional story delivered either by one host or an entire cast in multiple episodes. Science and horror podcasts are common, but the genre also includes drama, comedy, sci-fi, and romance, among others.
  • Live Podcast. These are podcasts that are recorded in front of a live audience. Some podcasters even create a virtual live tour for their show.
  • Hybrid Podcast. They mix different types of podcast formats. For example, a podcaster may do monologue-style content in one episode, an interview in another, and a panel in a different episode.

How Do Podcasts Work?

A podcast consists of a series of episodes, like a TV show. The podcast creator determines the frequency of releasing each new episode. Most release new episodes weekly, others daily, yet others twice or thrice per week.

The episodes are available free of charge on multiple platforms, including the Google podcasts app or Apple podcast app. The aim is to create audio content consistently around the podcast topic to build an audience. The podcaster can then monetize the audience through sponsor ads and merchandising. Podcasters can also garner financial support through crowdfunding platforms such as Patreon.

Meaning of Podcasting

Podcasting entails producing an audio file and distributing it through a podcasting platform. At the bare minimum, you need a microphone, audio recording software, a computer, and a serene environment to record your podcast.

Once you have recorded the content, you then edit the audio file accordingly and host your podcast on platforms such as Buzzsprout, Podbean, Simplecast, and Spreaker for distribution.

Spectacular Podcasting Successes

Podcasts continue to gain popularity due to factors such as

  • Ease of creation
  • Ease of distribution
  • Low barrier to entry
  • On-demand access
  • Demand for long-form conversations

As such, certain podcasts have had spectacular success. For example, the top 10 Podcasts in America are:

  1. Welcome to Our Show by iHeartpodcasts
  2. Crime Junkie by Audiochuck
  3. Sweet bobby by Tortoise Media
  4. Morbid: A True Crime Podcast
  5. Dateline NBC by NBC News
  6. Murdaugh Murders Podcast by Mandy Matney
  7. The Daily by New York Times
  8. The Bible in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz
  9. Fly on the Wall with Dana Carvey and David Spade
  10. The MLK Tapes by iHeartPodcasts and Tenderfoot TV

The success of a podcast can be measured against metrics such as:

  • Number of downloads
  • Number of engaged listeners
  • Number of podcast subscriptions
  • Listener engagement with sponsor content
  • Revenue
  • Backlinks and social media sharing
  • Reviews
  • Ranking on the podcast hosting platform

Terrible Podcasting Disasters

It’s not all sunshine when looking at the podcast outlook. Unfortunately, about 75% of podcasts fail within a few months of launching. The top reasons why podcasts fail include:

What is the Podcast Outlook in the Future?

podcast room
Source: Pixabay

According to the ImprovePodcast 2022 Podcast outlook, the podcast industry is expected to grow in every shape and form. Podcast awareness among the U.S population is expected to grow up to 87%, with 51% of the population being active podcast listeners. Podcasts will become more integrated as part of everyday life.

Spotify may surpass Pandora to become the top Podcast directory. With the increase in the popularity of smart speakers, listenership via Amazon music will also increase.

Grandview Research predicts that the podcasting market size will continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 31.1% between 2021 and 2028. In 2021, the podcast market size value was estimated at $14.25 billion. It will continue to grow up to $94.88 billion in 2028.

Podcasts will continue to take up traditional media market share, including print, video, and radio entertainment. As such, we expect that podcast ad revenue will continue to increase.

Due to the hyper-targeted nature of podcast audiences, sponsors find that podcast listeners provide a conversion rate. Therefore, more and more businesses are incorporating podcast sponsorships in their advertising, marketing, and public relations strategies.

Although paid sponsorships are the main way that podcasts monetize, more podcasters are now offering paid subscriptions for their shows to increase revenue.

The growth in podcasts resulted from factors like increased awareness of podcasts, a wide range of podcasts for listeners to choose from, and high-quality content. Also, more podcasts are investing heavily in marketing and promotion, making it easy for listeners to discover them.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology will become integral in the distribution, consumption, and marketing of podcasts. It will help personalize the listener ad experience and improve new podcast recommendations.

It will also help podcasters to better research relevant topics for their audience. Audio content creators will have better insight into their audience’s listening habits to plan for the right time for content delivery.


The future prospects for podcasting and overall podcast outlook are quite promising. Podcast listenership will continue to grow, and so will revenue. If you are considering starting a podcast, this is the right time to join the industry. On the other hand, if you already have a podcast, be proactive about growing your audience and your revenue.

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Last Update: April 1, 2024