2021 Year End Podcast Industry Report: Stats and Facts for Podcasters

This year has been such a blast for our podcast creators! We’ve studied the podcast performance and internal data from a pool of 10,000 users worldwide and millions of unique download figures to put together this industry report. As the primary podcasting site in Taiwan, these industry figures may be seen as representative of the Taiwanese and Asian podcasting market as a whole.

In this article, we take a look back at how podcasts have performed in 2021. 

Highlights in this article:

Podcast Downloads and Audience Growth

Podcasts have been around for decades; but recent events over the last few years and months have contributed to the entire industry’s exponential growth. We take a look at podcast downloads figures to get a glimpse of the entire podcasting industry’s growth and market trajectory. 

Podcast downloads is an objective figure that represents podcast market demand. From the consistent upward slope, we know for sure that podcast popularity continues to grow. Month-on-month figures show that podcast downloads have grown by 380% from January to November 2021. 

If you’re looking to start your own podcast, you can be assured that the market’s demand is up and growing. Read about the 5 easy steps to become a podcaster and start accumulating downloads!

2021 Podcast industry Stats Monthly downloads growth

Top Podcasters Growth and Market Share Ratio

From the top 200 podcasts in the database, we took a look at their cumulative downloads figures. 89% of total podcast downloads are driven by top creators by November 2021. This marks a 2% increase from the 87% share in January this year. 

Benchmark your podcast performance with other creators to know how well your show is doing compared to others’. Want to become a part of the top podcast creators? Grow your podcast audience and promote your show to be part of the pool that drives 89% of podcast popularity.

top 200 podcasts downloads

Popular Podcast Categories in 2021

It is important to know the podcast categories that appeal the most to audiences, because this again represents market demand. This is most especially true when starting your own podcast and deciding upon which category or podcast genre to focus on.

Our findings show that News podcasts were most popular, accounting for 28% of the total downloads. The next popular single category was Education and Business, with 14% and 11% shares, respectively. This is no surprise, knowing that podcast listeners comprises of intelligent, self-improving groups of individuals. 

The collective 23% Others Category comprises of Arts, Fiction, Government, History, Health & Fitness, Leisure, Music, Religion & Spirituality, Science, Society & Culture, Sports, Technology, and TV & Film, with Society & Culture podcasts accounting for the largest share out of the 23%.

top podcast categories 2021

Podcast Listener Stats (Age and Gender)

Why are audience demographics important? So that you can create the best type of content, of course!

Knowing your customers (listeners) is a fundamental success driver widely taught in any business school. The same goes with podcasts! 

Gather feedback and voice messages from your listeners and top these quantitative data with qualitative insights to make the best well-informed decisions for your podcast.

Our research shows that majority of listeners are 28 to 34 year old females, followed by 35 to 44 year old females.

podcast listeners age and gender

Podcast Donation and Subscription Earnings Growth

Our monetization system comprises of both one-time donation and recurring subscription types of podcaster support. We recognize the importance and impact of creators being able to monetize their content; and we’re delighted to see our creators earning 494% more by November 2021 when compared to the beginning of this year.

We love seeing podcasters experience the fruit of their hard work, so we’re doing our best to make this monetization system available worldwide. 

podcast donation and money earnings

Observed Podcast Trends and Behavior in 2021

Children’s Book Podcasts Gaining Popularity

During the year, podcasts on children’s books have gained popularity. Part of the reason for this may be because of the Covid-19 epidemic, where children and parents stayed at home. However, there may be copyright issues involved for podcasters simply reading these books. 

Make sure to abide by copyright rules and avoid (intentional and accidental) plagiarism! 

Podcasts Serving as a Medium of Communication for the Government

The president (or presidential office) of Taiwan under Tsai Ying Wen (蔡英文), hosts their podcast on Firstory as a medium of communication.

Other bureaus and departments, such as the Taiwan Ministry of Health and Welfare, has also opened up a podcast on Firstory to provide relevant health information.

Currently, more and more politicians and government agencies have been opening up their own shows, especially as podcasts continue to be a strong source of news.

Big Names and Brands Investing in Podcasts

More and more big brands, organizations, and labels are hopping into the podcast wagon. Will this pose as a challenge to new indie podcasters? We may have to rethink our creation and collaboration strategies.

We predict that the Dynamic Insertion developments will open up more opportunities and possibilities, especially for indie podcasters, to gain a new form of advertising.

Cheers to a Fantastic 2021! We're Ready for 2022

A massive thank you to all the creators and institutions who have stuck with Firstory in 2021. 

It was a wonderful year growing with your show, and we cannot wait to see what’s next in 2022.

Happy Holidays!