True or false: There are over 48 million podcast episodes that you can listen to right now?
Believe it or not, this is true! According to Podcast Insights, there are over 48 million podcast episodes in over 100 languages across dozens of platforms. And these numbers are growing by the day.
Today, September 30th, is International Podcast Day so we’re taking the time to reflect on how and why the power of podcasts has grown in recent years.
It all Started with the iPod Nano
In 2004, MTV VJ, Adam Curry, and software developer, Dave Winer, collaborated to create a software enabling radio broadcast files to be listened to on the classic iPod Nano. That same year, journalist Ben Hammersley published a respected article in The Guardian, predicting the boom of ‘online radio’. He believed that the increasing popularity of the iPod, the affordability of production equipment, and the surprising interest in blogging was the perfect combination to give rise to “amateur radio.” Not only did he predict our current podcast obsessed reality, but Hammersley also coined the name. He cleverly merged the words iPod and Broadcast to name the global phenomena we all know and love today, Podcast.
The second half of the 2000s brought a lot of attention and intrigue towards podcasts. In 2005, the New Oxford American Dictionary declared Podcast as their word of the year, Apple incorporated podcasts to iTunes and countless guides emerged to instruct folks how to create their very own podcast.
In no time, everyone from Ricky Gervais, to the Queen of England, to President Bush had all either created or appeared on a podcast, and the types of audio shows were also growing. True crime, fantasy football, daily news and literally anything other genre/topic you could think of began popping up. Apple was no longer the only platform to host podcasts, as Spotify, SoundCloud and a handful of other sites got in on the fun. It became clear that podcasts were increasing in popularity and traction, in a way that no one could have ever predicted.
As the 2010s zoomed by, an estimated 165 million people had listened to a podcast (Review if Americans or globally) and with that, podcasts became a lot more strategic for businesses.
Spotify for example, acquired sports and culture publication, The Ringer, Gimlet Media (known for their popular shows like Crimetown), and signed an exclusive $100 million partnership with Joe Rogan whose podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, has over 190 million downloads a month.
The Perfect Escape from our Busy Lives
With interest and investment at the millions of views and billions of dollars, it certainly doesn’t seem like podcasts are going anywhere. For businesses, they’re a form of advertising, for creators, they’re an outlet to share one’s passion, and for listeners, they’re a convenient escape.
In a society that is notorious for multitasking, podcasts are seen as an easy and enjoyable form of entertainment. Many folks choose to listen to their favorite show while driving, at work, or even exercising. The range of episode lengths and the ability to pause and restart, make them accessible and appealing for just about any lifestyle.
Given the popularity of podcasts, I have a feeling that no one wants to read any more of this reflection on the power of audio. So, I invite you to plug in your headphones, press play on your podcast of the moment, and celebrate International Podcast Day!