2019 growth

It’s official: 2019 brought the largest number of show launches in podcast history. That’s according to the podcast search engine Listen Notes, which reports there were 246,782 podcast debuts last year, a 40% increase compared to 2018. The tally shows the 2019 crop of new podcasts represents 29% of all shows that have been created to date, with the past two years seeing the launch of about half of all podcasts.

All those new shows also mean there are a lot more episodes available. Listen Notes says it detected 14,649,860 new episodes last year. That compares to just over 11 million new episodes published in 2018.

And while 2020 is still young, podcasters are off to a strong start. Listen Notes says 54 new podcasts have been created worldwide so far while it also counts 53,922 new episodes released since the new year rang in just a few days ago.

Overall, the Listen Notes search engine and database show there are at least 861,295 podcasts and 57,978,838 episodes in the world. The vast majority—78%—of podcasts are in English, followed by Spanish-language podcasts, which make up about 5% of the total. German, French and Portuguese round out the top five. Listen Notes says seven-in-ten podcasts are rooted in the United States. The remainder of the top five producers are Spain, Germany, France and the U.K.

In addition to higher birth rates for podcasts, the death rate also decreased once again last year. Listen Notes says 28,480 podcasts were determined to be “dead” last year. That’s the smallest number of so-called podfades since 2016. A record 31,374 podcasts died during 2017, followed by 29,395 shows going dark in 2018. The search engine determines a show is dead if its RSS feed is deleted or its iTunes complete tag is a “yes.”

Listen Notes also reports 416,608 podcasts were “active” last year, or just under half of all shows that have been created. That number is calculated by looking at whether the latest episode of a podcast is published in a specific year and the podcast is not considered dead. If it clears those two hurdles, then a podcast is considered active in that year. The 2019 tally is far above the 99,160 shows Listen Notes said were active in 2018.

In terms of content, the search engine data shows Society & Culture remains the largest show genre. It represents 13.2% of all podcasts. Religion & Spirituality ranks second (10.9%) followed by Education (8.5%), Comedy (8.2%), and Business (7.9%).

San Francisco-based Listen Notes was launched in 2017 by Webian Fang who was frustrated with the search capabilities of both Apple Podcasts and Google. In a year-end email, Fang told users that Listen notes has released an extension for Microsoft Edge users and has also updated its Chrome browser extension. That means whenever someone using Chrome visits a website, the Listen Notes browser extension will tell them if there are podcasts on that website.