Podcast creation has reached an all-time low since it exploded in 2020 during the pandemic. Is the luster of this audio format wearing off for creators?
According to data compiled by Chartr, fewer podcasts were created in 2022 than the two years prior. The number of new shows created dropped 80% between 2020 and 2022. The core data is from Listen Notes, a podcast search engine.
In 2020, over one million new podcasts were launched. The following year in 2021, that number was down to just 729,000. And for 2022 a paltry 219,000 new podcasts were launched. That’s a massive crater from the all-time high achieved during 2020. It highlights that podcast fatigue may be kicking in among creators as well as listeners.
Before January 2020, podcasts had been growing at a steady clip each year since their conception in 2007. The period from 2015 to 2019 saw the largest expansion of podcasts, but the pandemic boom that arrived in 2020 dwarfed the previous four years combined. The rapid decline in new show creation appears to be focused on one-off shows, too. According to data from Listen Notes new episodes haven’t declined to the same degree.
Edison Research also provides some bleak information on the listener side of the equation, too. The Infinite Dial report for 2022 reports that after years of steady growth, Americans who report listening to at least one podcast declined from 41% to 38%. Drilling down into the data reveals that the decline was highest among younger listeners aged 12-34—dropping from 56% down to just 50% in the span of one year. The lack of interest here may be why Spotify is moving in a different direction as it reorganizes its leadership ranks.
The Spotify layoffs will impact around 600 employees as Spotify consolidates its business operations. Dawn Ostroff, who oversaw the company’s podcast strategy, is moving to an advisory role before formally leaving the company. Her memo reveals that Spotify podcast exclusives like The Joe Rogan Experience, Call Her Daddy, and Caso 63 account for 20% of podcast listening on the platform, despite making up 0.05% of shows. While Ostroff flaunts that as a success for Spotify—it shows that podcasting success remains in the hands of the few.
Nieman Lab drilled down into the Listen Notes podcast data to determine that only ~780,000 podcasts have released at least one new episode since 2022. Listen Notes collates data for 2.5 million ‘active’ podcasts. What’s interesting when comparing these numbers to previous years is that of all podcasts that have stopped publishing new episodes since 2010—78% of them stopped in 2020 or 2021.
Those two years were hugely influential for propelling podcasting into the mainstream, but we’re seeing a massive draw down in interest from both creators and listeners in the segment. The format isn’t dead, but the gold rush era of podcasting mostly likely is.