The podcasting industry has seen a significant increase since it began in the early 2000s. Popular podcasts, such as "The Joe Rogan Experience", receive hundreds of millions of downloads, and the hosts make millions of dollars a year. Smaller podcasts could make $500 to $900 per 10,000 downloads.
Let’s dive into the numbers to find out how much podcasts make and how big the podcasting industry is.
- The podcasting industry was estimated to be worth $21.4 billion in 2022.
- Podcasters can expect between $500 and $900 for every 10,000 downloads.
- An estimated 177 million people in the U.S. listen to podcasts.
- "The Joe Rogan Experience" is the highest-earning podcast, making $30 million in 2019.
- A third of U.S. adults under 30 say they listen to podcasts a few times a week.
Downloads dramatically affect a podcast’s potential earnings
Multiple factors determine how much a podcast earns, but the number of downloads is a critical success metric. The personal finance blog "I Will Teach You To Be Rich" estimates that the average podcaster can expect to make between $500 and $900 once they’ve reached 10,000 downloads. However, affiliate sales, Patreon support, merch sales, and other monetization methods can help boost revenue.
Podcasting platform Buzzsprout found that the top 1% of podcasts receive 5,226 episode downloads in the first seven days after publishing a new episode. The top 5% receive 1,155 downloads in the first seven days a podcast episode is published.
Source: Podcastle, "I Will Teach You To Be Rich," Buzzsprout.
"The Joe Rogan Experience" is the highest-earning podcast
Joe Rogan, a comedian, UFC interviewer, and host of the TV show Fear Factor, created and hosts the highest-earning and most successful podcast in the world.
According to podcast hosting company Castos, "The Joe Rogan Experience" podcast, which has been in production for 14 years, makes $800,000 per episode. He also makes another $16,500 to $264,000 monthly on YouTube and earned roughly $30 million in 2019 alone.
Edison Metrics reports that "The Joe Rogan Experience" was the most listened-to podcast in the third and fourth quarters of 2022, followed by "Crime Junkie," "The Daily," "This American Life," and "Morbid: A True Crime Podcast," respectively.
Source: Castos, "I Will Teach You To Be Rich," Podcastle, Statista.
The highest-earning podcasts make millions of dollars a year
Most podcasts don’t make their download numbers and earnings publicly available, but some of the biggest shows earn millions yearly.
Podcastle reports that "The Joe Rogan Experience" has over 190 million monthly downloads. In comparison, "The Ramsey Show," a personal finance podcast, has approximately 52 million monthly downloads and earns about $10 million annually.
Other top-earning podcasts without download disclosures include "My Favorite Murder," which earned about $15 million in 2019, and "The Daily," which makes about $10 million a year.
Dax Shepard’s podcast, "Armchair Expert," reportedly makes about $9 million a year, and true crime podcast "Crime Junkie" is estimated to make about $6 million. "This American Life" reportedly earns about $2 million annually.
Source: Podcastle, Statista.
The global podcasting market is expected to grow 27.6% by 2023
According to Grand View Research’s recent analysis, the podcasting market is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.6% between 2023 and 2030. In 2020, the U.S. podcasting market was estimated to be worth $4 billion and increased to $5.2 billion in 2021.
According to an analysis by Globe Newswire, the global podcasting market was worth $21.4 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow to $233.9 billion by 2032.
Source: Grand View Research, Globe Newswire.
North America dominates the podcast market
North America dominated the market in 2022 with 40.6% of the revenue share worth $8.68 billion and is expected to hold the largest market share from 2023 to 2030. According to Grand View Research, the U.S. had a revenue share of over 91% in the regional market in 2022.
Latin America is expected to be the fastest-growing region. Between 2023 and 2030, the region is expected to have a CAGR of 37% because of its large population and more of the population becoming digitally connected. "A Mulher da Casa Abandonada" was the most downloaded podcast across Latin America in July of 2022, with more than 1.75 million weekly downloads.
Source: Grand View Research, Globe Newswire.
The news and politics genre had the largest market share in 2022
Grand View Research found that news and politics had the largest market share of podcasts in 2022, with more than 27.4% of all listeners. The Pew Research Center found that 64% of people who responded to their survey "Podcasts as a Source of News and Information" said that staying up to date with current events is essential. Of those, 29% said it's a significant reason to listen to a podcast, and 34% said it was a minor reason.
While sports was the fifth top podcasting genre between October 2022 and March 2023, it is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 29% from 2023 to 2030. Grand View Research reports that podcast networks are acquiring more sports and entertainment-themed content to help them keep up with customer demand.
Source: Grand View Research, Pew Research Center.
28% of podcast listeners say they have bought something promoted on a podcast
The Pew Research Center found that most podcast audiences also engage with podcasts in other ways. About 60% of listeners have watched a movie, read a book, or listened to music recommended on a podcast, and 36% have tried a lifestyle change like a new diet or workout routine.
28% of people said they bought something because a podcast recommended it, and 13% said they paid for a subscription to a podcast. Another 13% said they donated to a cause, volunteered, or attended an event because of a podcast, and a further 12% said that they had purchased podcast-branded merchandise.
Source: Pew Research Center.
New podcasters may still make some money, even without ads
While learning how to make money through podcasting may be challenging, beginner podcasters can still make money. Using alternate monetization strategies like sponsorship platforms, affiliate marketing, social media promoting, and selling merchandise or physical products can help podcasts that don’t have ad revenue still generate income.
According to both Castos and BuzzSprout, the $5-a-month tier is the most popular podcast sponsorship level on Patreon, and podcasters can expect roughly 2% of their audience to subscribe.
Another 1% of listeners may use affiliate links to support a podcast, making an average purchase of $15. Another podcast monetization method can be developing online courses or guides. This passive income enables continuous sales to listeners. Castos and BuzzSprout estimate that roughly 0.5% of an audience may purchase a course, ranging in average price from $99 to $197.
Source: Castos, BuzzSprout.
Patreon support can provide significant income for podcasters
According to Castos, Patreon support can provide a large portion of a podcaster's income. "Chapo Trap House," a popular show with over 500 episodes, 8,400 reviews, and a 4.6 out of 5-star rating on Apple podcasts, is reported by Castos to have more than 32,874 patrons, producing about $147,262 monthly revenue.
The popular show "Last Podcast on the Left" has 867 episodes and more than 48,000 reviews and is reported to have 11,290 patrons, resulting in revenue of about $53,958 a month.
Source: Castos, Apple Podcasts.
Spotify is the leading podcast platform, but Apple has more offline downloads
Data analysis firm Demandsage found that Spotify is the leader in podcast streaming, with 33.7% of users selecting it compared to 27.6% choosing Apple. However, Apple received the majority of offline podcast downloads, with 70.8% of download requests for offline listening, compared to just 8.9% for Spotify.
According to an analysis by PodTrac, in September 2023, iHeartPodcasts was the largest podcast producer with 902 active shows, more than 387 million global streams, and more than 32 million streams in the U.S. Wondry is the second largest producer, with 224 active shows and over 166 million global streams and 22 million in the U.S. NPR, NBC News, and The New York Times completed the top five.
Source: Demandsage, PodTrac.
In the US, 62% of people 12 and older have listened to a podcast
According to Edison Research, 177 million, or 62%, of people in the U.S. over age 12 listened to at least one podcast in 2022, up from 57% in 2021. Of respondents 18 and older, 32% said they have listened to a podcast in the car within the last month, compared to 30% in 2021. Interestingly, 38% of people 12 and older said they were monthly podcast listeners in 2022, down slightly from 41% in 2021.
Between mid-2021 and mid-2022, Spotify found that members of Gen Z were discovering podcasts at more than double the rate of any other generation. Eleven percent of people ages 13-17 and 4% of those ages 18-24 found new podcasts, compared to just 2% of people aged 25-34 and 3% aged 35-44 during that same period.
Source: Edison Research, Spotify.
A third of all US adults under 30 say they listen to podcasts a few times a week
The Pew Research Center found that 32% of all U.S. adults under 30 said they listen to podcasts a few times a week, compared to just 8% of people over 65.
In 2022, 67%, or nearly two-thirds of Americans between 18 and 29, say they have listened to a podcast in the last year, while 58% of people aged 30 to 49 report the same. According to Edison Research, monthly podcast listening of those aged 35 to 54 grew to 43% in 2022, up from 39% in 2021.
Only 42% of respondents aged 50 to 64 and 28% of people over 65 say they have listened to a podcast in the last year.
Source: Pew Research Center, Edison Research.
Americans listen to podcasts predominantly to learn and for entertainment
The Pew Research Center found that at the end of 2022, 60% of respondents said that entertainment was a significant reason to listen to podcasts, while 55% said that learning was their primary reason.
Not surprisingly, 52% of people preferred to have something to listen to while doing something else, and 30% said it was to hear other people’s opinions. Only 29% said they wanted to stay up to date on current events, and 27% said they listened for encouragement or inspiration.
Spotify found significant overlap in podcast listeners' tastes, finding that 31% of listeners on their platform who chose arts-focused podcasts also listen to comedy genres, and 40% also listen to society and culture shows. 48% of people who listen to true crime podcasts also listen to comedy programming on the platform.
Source: Pew Research Center, Spotify.
The top podcast genre in 2022 was comedy
According to Edison Research, in 2022, the most commonly listened-to podcasts focused on comedy, followed by news, society and culture, true crime, and sports.
The Pew Research Center found that in 2022, 47% of respondents said they listened to podcasts about comedy, while 46% said they listened to entertainment, pop culture, and the arts. About four in ten people, or 41%, report they listen to podcasts about politics and government.
One in five listeners says the podcasts they listen to are connected to a news organization, while 59% say that the podcasts they listen to are not.
Source: Edison Research, Pew Research Center.
How do podcasters make money?
While growing a podcast takes time and effort, if you’re committed, it can be a fun and relatively low-cost way to become a creator — and you might make a little money too.
There are various ways podcasters can create revenue streams, such as:
- Sponsorships and paid ads: Monetize your podcast through sponsorships and podcast advertising. With quality content, your podcast’s download numbers may grow, and so do your chances of securing lucrative deals.
- Merchandise: Generate revenue by selling merchandise related to your podcast. This not only supports your work but also serves as free advertising. However, be mindful of the upfront investment to avoid unsold items.
- Affiliate marketing: Join affiliate programs of online retailers like Amazon. You earn from each sale made through your custom link, which you can promote in your episodes and show notes.
- Premium content: Offer exclusive content or episodes for a fee. This can be done through a membership program or tier levels, providing content that listeners find valuable enough to pay for.
- Develop a course or ebook: Establish a passive income stream by creating courses or ebooks. Though it requires initial effort, once created, you can focus on marketing and updating the content periodically.
How much podcasters make: bottom line
While many podcasts may earn a small amount of money, some hit the big time and make millions. Although there isn’t a surefire way to predict success, starting a podcast can be a fun way of sharing topics you’re passionate about with the world.