Is the Podcast Bubble Bursting?
Listener stats are down in the US for the first time in years
Podcasting just encountered something it hasn’t seen before on its smooth, straight super-highway to global domination… a bump in the road.
The gold standard podcast listening survey (‘The Infinite Dial’ by Edison Research) in the US released its latest figures. Although, taken as a whole, there is still good evidence of growth, they didn’t all make pretty reading.
In fact the headline stat contained bad news:
38% of those age 12+ in the U.S. are monthly podcast listeners in the current study, down from 41% in the Infinite Dial 2021, but still higher than 2020 (37%)
That word — “down”.
That’s not a word the podcasting industry has heard in a while. I know, because I’m part of it (my tiny company of one — it’s just me — produces podcasts and invents audio tech).
Monthly listeners to podcasts in the US are down by 3%.
The reaction of the podcast industry to this headline listening stat seems to be very calm and unpeturbed. It’s just one stat amongst many other positive ones and, after all, there’s an obvious explanation.
But is that right?…
Keep Calm And Carry On
For the past few years all of us in the podcast industry have enjoyed being the new cool kids in town who everybody wants to talk to.
And every single one of us has enjoyed throwing in the phrase “Well, of course, podcasting is exploding at the moment and it’s only going to get bigger” as we gleefully expand and grow.
No-one could challenge us.
Well, they can now.
Here’s what Edison’s SVP Tom Webster said about that downward trend:
“Clearly, Americans went back to work and back to school last year, which brought podcasting numbers back in line with pre-pandemic figures. However, the trend line continues to go up, particularly with 35–54 year olds.”
Looking to the pandemic for an explanation is something we have seen a lot of recently, with businesses that…