Pex, a music and video analytics and digital rights management company, has released a report on the exponential growth of podcasts as a sound medium. Using their impressive data capabilities, Pex analyzed over 32 million unique podcast episodes published across major platforms and pod services.
Podcasting has exploded in recent years. While Covid-19 caused a blip, it doesn’t seem the medium will otherwise slow down. According to Edison Research, more than half the U.S. population has listened to a podcast. Furthermore, roughly 90 million people are monthly podcast listeners. With ad revenue growing rapidly, the industry is expected to produce more than $1 billion in revenue by 2021.
Big names are inflating the podcast industry. Spotify spent a reported $396 million to become the second-biggest provider behind Apple Podcasts. Major content providers like Warner Media launched their own podcast networks. Sony also acquired multiple podcast properties. Additionally, celebrities host their own podcasts. These even included Barack and Michelle Obama, who are producing podcasts for Spotify.
Although data reported mainly originates from social media and UGC sites, the technology built at Pex applies to many content platforms. Recently, Pex began analyzing podcasts to see how the medium is progressing and what opportunities it holds for rights holders, creators, and platforms.
Podcast growth is off the charts
At the end of 2019, there were 819,496 unique shows, of which 264,104 were started just last year.
To date, 32,402,790 unique podcast episodes were indexed. This shows podcasts grew an exponential rate, essentially doubling every year.
The average length of each episode is currently at 35 minutes and 27 seconds, down from 2015 when the longest was 45 minutes and 44 seconds.
Nearly 7 million hours of podcasts (6,967,370) were published in 2019. For comparison, this represents around 8 days of newly uploaded content to YouTube.
Christianity dominates podcasts
There are 112 categories within Apple Podcasts. Perhaps surprisingly at first, the fastest growing and largest category is Christianity, which is separate from the Religion and Spirituality category. The abundance of sermon uploads drives this. Some churches hold daily mass. These churches constantly produce sermons. They fit the podcast medium perfectly.
Least produced podcasts
It turns out that Swimming podcasts are the least produced. While swimming may not immediately come to mind as a great podcast channel, the industry is using the medium to discuss pro swimming, water polo, and just general techniques for swimmers. As podcast growth explodes, it looks like Swimming is a little fish in a big pond.
Excluding Christianity, the rest of the top 20 categories are of similar size. Comedy, Society & Culture, Music, and Sports round out the top five.
Nearly 17% of podcasts contain music
Of the 32.4 million podcasts we’ve indexed, 5,447,823 (16.8%) contained at least 10 seconds of music (of any kind). Since podcasts are audio only, it’s convenient to include music to spice up a long talk track. In fact, some consist entirely of commentary about music, making it hard to produce an episode without a song. Podcasts also often leverage music in their intros and outros or as part of their advertisements. Simply put, music plays a significant role in podcast content.
However, compared to YouTube, this number seems small. A recent report stated 84% of YouTube videos include music. This may be a reflection of how difficult it is for podcast producers to license music appropriately. Producers don’t currently have a seamless way to license music for podcasts. Additionally, the inherent beauty of producing podcasts quickly does not lend itself well to music’s traditional licensing practices. However, with ad revenue projected to hit $1 billion in 2021, the music industry has a huge opportunity to increase revenue through podcasts.
Pex delivers independent video and music analytics and digital rights management services to enable creators and rights holders to audit, measure and monetize copyrighted content across the Web. Pex automatically finds snippets as short as 1 second across dozens of platforms worldwide. Clients include online platforms, major music and film rights holders, and other key content producers and administrators.