The Road to 3 Million Podcasts

We believe we are in the first inning of a double header as it relates to the podcast industry. In the relatively near future, podcasts will be as easy to produce as it is to produce blog posts today. And like blogs today, most businesses and individuals will be producing audio content at a scale and quality we can only imagine.

Audio files will be the new HTML and text of the future. Search engine algorithms will go from ranking web pages to ranking audio. By 2020, it is estimated that 50% of all searches will be done without a screen and via voice.

Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash

Before we dive into the estimated podcast future numbers, let’s examine the historical and current state of the blogging market. (data from TechJury)

  • In 1999 there were 23 blogs on the Internet
  • In 2005, there were 50 million blogs
  • In 2019, there are now more than 505 million blogs (350 million of these are on the dying Tumblr platform)
  • There are approximately 5.8MM new blog posts everyday
  • On average, bloggers take 3.5 hours to write a blogpost
  • 77% of the Internet reads blogs
  • On average, readers spend 37 seconds reading a blog post
  • Companies with 16+ monthly blog posts have more traffic than companies with fewer blog posts
  • For 55% of marketers, blog content creation is the top inbound marketing strategy
  • 89% of B2B marketers use content marketing
  • 85.5% of people think blogs add credibility to a site
  • In 2018, the number of bloggers surpassed 30 million according to Statista.
  • A blogger, on average has multiple blogs.
  • The 80/20 rule — 80% of the bloggers never make money from their blogs.

Now, let’s do some back of the napkin math to see how many podcasts there are today, determine the estimated total ad spend / revenue from these podcasts and extrapolate that out to see what it would take to get to 3 million active podcasts in the future. (assuming all else is equal)

According to WARC Data, it is estimated that by 2022, total podcast ad spend will reach $1.6B.

Let’s look at the actual data for 2018 to determine the amount of podcasts we must have assuming average growth stays relatively constant. In 2018, there were approximately 550,000 podcasts and ad spend was $649.8 MM. A simple approach would be to determine the average ad spend per podcast. This would equate to $1,182 per podcast. Obviously there are many podcasts making $0 in ad spend / revenue but for the purpose of this exercise, let’s assume each new podcast receives $1,182 in ad revenue per year. At this pace, it would take about 12 years from 2019 to 2031 to reach 3MM active podcasts and total podcast ad spend would reach $3.8B.

Now, let’s assume massive adoption of podcasting occurs when technology allows for a podcast to be professionally produced as easily as a blog can be produced today. What could this potential look like? According to Statista, audio CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) on mobile will be 37% from 2015 to 2021.

At that rate, assuming all else is equal, the 3MM podcast mark would be hit by 2026 and would produce nearly $4B in audio podcast ad spend.

If we take a more aggressive approach, could podcast ad revenue surpass that of the $18.2B radio ad industry? Well, if the total number of listeners for podcasts could get to 70% + of the population through new ways of listening. (i.e Amazon Echo for the car) and the CAGR of ad revenue to 50% starting after 2022, theoretically, the podcast ad revenue business could surpass the $18B mark by 2032.

Now, before you say, “That could never happen,” remember what some of the brightest minds said about their industry in the past. With that said, only time will tell.

“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.” Steve Ballmer (2007)

“The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty — a fad.” Horace Rackham (1903)

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943

“Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”
Darryl Zanuck, executive at 20th Century Fox, 1946

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.” William Orton (1876)

“Almost all of the many predictions now being made about 1996 hinge on the Internet’s continuing exponential growth. But I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.”
Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com, 1995

“Apple is already dead.”
Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO, 1997

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