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Key podcast trends: from production to monetization

November 8, 2022 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN

Most podcasters believe the medium will become even more prevalent over the next two years though metrics and monetization still remain a challenge. Muck Rack’s annual report, The State of Podcasting, shows that while fewer podcasters started their own show this year (41% in 2022 vs. 68% in 2021), productions are emerging across the board.

Muck Rack’s data is based on the responses of 591 professional podcasters surveyed between September 15, 2022, to October 5, 2022.  Overall, survey participants note increased podcast activity. This includes hiring of podcasters by media companies (16%), new offshoots of previous podcasts being produced (13%), and new productions by existing podcast teams (5%).

Further, Muck Rack finds that, while there are fewer full-time podcasters (31% vs. 37% last year), there are more part-time podcasters (69% this year vs. 64% last year). Among the part-timers, 53% work on two or more podcasts, and more than half publish new episodes once a week or more.

Many podcasters note that podcasting is a product of their enjoyment and passion (29%) as well as revenue (27%) and awareness/education (24%). The average podcaster covers three roles at once. Their hats most commonly include promotion/marketing (45%), hosting (43%), and booking guests (39%).

Forty-five percent of professional podcasters have a self-reported audience size of 10K or fewer listeners. Another 25% report having between 10K and 100,000 listeners. While audience size is a good indicator of popularity, many podcasting measuring and hosting services use the number of downloads as a metric for listens. According to Buzzsprout, the top 1% of podcasts generate 4,683 listens or more (downloads). Podcasts that receive 29 listens per episode, or more are within the top 50% of podcasts.

Muck Rack finds that most podcasters use three metrics to measure success: downloads (46%), listens/streams (37%), and consumption rate (34%).

More premium content 

Eight in 10 podcasters report that they are sourcing original content. Inspiration for new content ideas comes from current events (45%), ongoing areas of research (35%), and audience requests (32%). In addition, 22% report that they rely on pitches for new ideas.

Podcasters are also publishing new episodes more frequently than last year. Thirty-one percent publish two or more times per week vs. 24% last year. Importantly, seven in 10 are offering premium content, with the most popular premium content being exclusive and offering bonus episodes (38%) and early release of new episodes (32%).

Four in 5 podcasts sometimes or often include guests. More podcasters now rely on someone on their team to book guests (48% this year vs. 39% last year) and less on themselves to make the booking (59% this year vs. 80% last year).

More than half of podcasters surveyed say that the average length of an episode is between 20-40 minutes long, with a third of them falling in the 30-40-minute range. Interestingly, more than two-thirds of podcasters (67%) record videos of their podcasts.

Distribution and monetization

Consistent with last year, Apple leads (self-reported) in most podcast streams (47%), followed by Google Podcasts (17%) and Spotify (11%). Aside from podcasting sites, most use social media (60%) as an essential channel to reach their audiences, followed by websites (46%) and blogs (40%).

Podcasters are using subscriptions (38%), ads (34%), and premium content (29%) to help monetize their content. Monetization vehicles show substantial increases compared to last year ‒ subscriptions are up 12%, premium content is up 17%, and guests who pay to appear on a show are up 22%.

As podcasting evolves, there is room for growth. Muck Rack finds that most podcasters believe that podcasting’s popularity is driven by our mobile lifestyle (64%) and the convenience of listening to podcasts (59%).

The medium is advancing to offer an integrated listener experience. New formats with text and multimedia elements will be part of the future and market maturity. Podcasters are enthusiastic about the opportunities to push the industry forward while remaining authentic to the medium.

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