It’s hard to get around them these days: podcasts are becoming more popular every year. Hardly anyone has never listened to a podcast, and once you start, you can’t stop. And while demand is growing, so is the supply. But why are podcasts becoming more and more popular?


What is a podcast?

The word “podcast” is derived from the compound of the words “broadcast” and “iPod.” In 2005, Apple was the first service provider to implement podcasts in its iTunes music program, thus laying the foundation for the success of today’s podcasts. Podcasts themselves are created from audio content that is uploaded and published on various platforms and can then be played by users at any time. You may spontaneously recall comedy content that your radio station plays regularly. Much of this content is uploaded to a podcast portal like Spotify or Apple Podcasts whenever a new episode is released. All of these episodes together make up a podcast.


Who listens to podcasts?

Admittedly, current statistics regarding podcast listenership are scarce. But even if we look at past studies, we can notice a trend: While only 14 percent of German citizens listened to podcasts in 2016, the number rose to 22 percent in 2018. By now, it is likely to be even significantly higher. Other statistics from 2018 are also interesting in this context. For example, podcasts are not only popular among younger people aged 14 to 29 (30 percent), but also among those aged 30 to 49 (30 percent). Just a little less than a quarter of 50 to 64-year-olds listen to podcasts, while in the 65+ generation the figure is just 4 percent.


How are podcasts funded? 

Simply put: through advertising. As with television shows, inserts from advertisers can be played at the beginning or in the middle of the episode. Podcasts can also be financed through sponsorship. The prices you can expect basically depend on the number of downloads. The more listeners listen to the podcast episode, the higher the CPM (price per 1,000 listeners). In the U.S., there are standardized amounts: for an episode that has between 100,000 and 999,999 downloads, the host gets $30 per 1,000 downloads for a 30-second commercial. The host in this case would earn between $3,000 and just under $30,000 from a single podcast episode. But few podcasts have that many listeners, so revenues of that amount are very rare.


Why are podcasts so popular?

So now let’s get to the opening question. The main reason podcasts are so popular is that they don’t require our full attention. While videos only work if we look and listen (subtitles aside), podcasts can be listened to while doing many activities on the side. Whether it’s cooking, cleaning, driving or falling asleep, podcasts can easily accompany us during all of these activities without taking us any more time. 

And there are podcasts for different purposes: the “Einschlafen Podcast” by Toby Bayer has been released every two weeks since 2010 and is a real classic among podcasts. In the 50-90 minute lasting episodes, Toby delivers monologues and reads chapters from Kant, Goethe, and Rilke. With his quiet, monotone style, he regularly helps thousands of listeners to fall asleep. 

Different podcast categories give you an idea of why podcasts are so popular: Whether news, comedy, true crime, knowledge, lifestyle, business or sports – there is now a podcast for every field of interest. To find out about Prohibition in the USA, you no longer have to read a dusty book or surf the net with full concentration: Just put on your headphones, turn on the episode, and you can do something else on the side. If you can’t make it to the news, you can catch up on the latest news in the Tagesschau podcast. There is even a whole category on the subject of pregnancy and birth, where parents are accompanied through their pregnancy. 


As you can see: Podcasts now fulfill all the purposes for which different media were previously responsible. To get information, people sat down in front of the TV and watched the news. For entertainment, people zapped through the program or immersed themselves for hours in YouTube videos. To build up knowledge, the Internet or libraries were the only options. But podcasts combine all these categories and have one decisive advantage: they can be accessed at any time. With an Internet connection and a click, the whole world of podcasts is open to the user.


Finally it remains to say that particularly in the current times of the COVID-19 crisis the popularity of Podcasts is well visible: found itself in the Podcastcharts right at the top a new Podcast – “the Coronavirus update with Christian Drosten” of NDR info informs the listeners at present daily about the new developments and challenges, which bring the virus with itself. 



In conclusion, it remains to be said that the end of the podcast hype is not yet in sight. No wonder, this format is a wonderful middle ground between everyday activities and hours of research. If you have any questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to contact us!


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