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The introduction of paid podcast options by Apple Podcasts and Spotify is one reason eMarketer is revising its outlook for the paid digital audio marketplace. The media analytics firm says paid audio subscribers are now climbing faster than previous expected. It forecasts the number of paid digital audio subscribers in the U.S. will reach 121.9 million this year. That would be an 11% increase compared to 109.6 million it estimated for 2020. And by 2023 that number will top 133 million according to the outlook.

The just-released estimates reflect an increase of five million since eMarketer released its prior outlook during the first quarter. If its numbers prove correct, it will mean that more than four in ten U.S. internet users will also be paid audio subscribers by year-end.

No one service dominates but Spotify Premium is expected to have the largest share, capturing 36.7% of paid subscribers according to the eMarketer estimates. It is followed by Apple Music, with an estimated 30.3% share and YouTube Premium, which analysts believe have 19.4% of the paid audio marketplace. Pandora trails with a 5.4% share for its Pandora Premium service according to eMarketer. 

The number of podcast listeners is projected to grow 10% this year to 117.8 million. The latest forecast from eMarketer says that while the rate of growth is slowing as more and more people listen to podcasts, the sheer number of people will continue to climb in the foreseeable future. The firm predicts podcast listeners will top 126 million in 2022, a 7.2% increase from 2021. And by 2026, nearly 145 million Americans are expected to make podcasts part of their media diet.