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New Listeners Are Fueling Explosive Audience Growth Across Podcasts

Done and dusted. 2021 is nearly over, and as the year draws to a close, it’s not only time for some well-earned rest, but for reflection, too.

2021 was the biggest year for podcasting yet, and so iHeartRadio is taking a look back and crunching numbers from Edison Research, Triton Digital and Podtrac to see what fueled podcasting’s meteoric growth during the year now passed.

The short answer is you! This year, 12 million more people just like you became monthly podcast listeners, increasing the overall podcast audience from 104 million in 2020, to 116 million in 2021. And the time listeners spent enjoying podcasts also went up, too: increasing by 13% compared to last year, and 31% over 2019.

Over the past year, the podcast industry has seen exponential growth, fueled by increasingly diverse audiences interested in everything from news and politics (+25% listener growth) to entertainment (+22% listener growth). In fact, as podcasts continue to grow more mainstream, every category of podcasts saw growth—spanning business (9%) to music (+8%), sports (+7%) and comedy (+7%). iHeartRadio also saw an influx in podcast downloads across categories, with some such as business and entertainment show downloads increasing by 133% and 80%, respectively.

As podcasting continued its spectacular growth this year, iHeartRadio is proud of its contributions to not only expand the industry, but also make it more diverse and accessible to new listeners. Since 2020, iHeartPodcast Network monthly downloads are up 90% and are listened to 337 million times across the globe, while monthly listeners are up 49% to reach 32 million people in the U.S., as iHeartRadio expanded its podcasting footprint with new networks and partnerships such as The Black Effect, My Cultura, Seneca Women and also Will Ferrell’s Big Money Players. During that time, iHeartRadio has seen multicultural audiences flourish to new highs, as listenership among Black, Hispanic and other diverse audiences has all significantly grown.

Interested in learning more about the podcasts and hosts driving new audiences to become podcast listeners? Check out some of the incredible lineup of podcasts available from iHeartRadio below!

And thank you to all the incredible fans and listeners (new and old) of podcasts this year. From everyone here at iHeartRadio, we’re wishing you all a safe and happy holidays!