Listen Notes 220

The number of podcasts grew by 687,302 last year according to the podcast search engine Listen Notes, which says the total number of podcasts now tops 2.75 million. The rate of debuts slowed last year following 2020’s record-setting tally of more than one million launches. Nevertheless the pace of new content coming online continues to outpace the pre-pandemic period. Listen Notes says last year’s number of debuts was more than double the 336,370 new shows that launched in 2019.

The monthly data shows the pace of new podcast launches slowed during the second half of 2021. Listen Notes added 150,391 new podcasts to its database during the second half compared to 536,911 during the first six months of the year. December was the lightest month of the year for debuts with 6,868 new podcasts added. March was the biggest with 104,480 podcasts launching.

Even as the number of new show debuts slowed during 2021, there was no shortage of content to consume. Listen Notes says producers published 28,267,951 episodes last year. That was 1.1 million fewer new episodes that was released during 2020, however it was a significant rise compared to the 17.7 million episodes that were published during 2019. Listen Notes says nearly half -- 47% -- of all podcast episodes were released during the past two years.

Fewer new podcasts debuting also came with fewer podcast deaths last year. Listen Notes says there were 66,672 podcasts that were considered dead, a decrease of 26% from 2020 when it marked the largest number of podcast deaths reported in any year since Listen Notes began tallying the numbers in 2008. Listen Notes considers a show to have died when the RSS feed is deleted, or its iTunes “Completed” tag is marked “yes” by the publisher. 

Listen Notes also says that of the 2.75 million podcasts that now exist, it calculates 1,166,939 or 43% of shows were considered “active” during 2021. It considers a show active if it published an episode during a specific year.

Similar to a year earlier, two-thirds of all podcasts in 2021 originated in the U.S. Not unexpectedly, most shows are in English. Listen Notes tabulates 60% were in English. That was a five point drop versus a year earlier. It reflects the growing number of Spanish- and Portuguese-language podcasts. The tally shows 12% of shows were in Spanish, a two percent rise from the prior year. And seven percent were in Portuguese, a one point increase from 2020 driven by the fast-growing Brazilian podcast market. Indonesian (5%) and German (3%) rounded out the top five.

The top genre remained Society & Culture during 2021, which represented 13.7% of all shows. It is followed by Education (12.4%), Arts (9.7%), Business (8.7%), Religion & Spirituality (8.4%), Comedy (7.3%), Health & Fitness (6.0%), News (5.1%), Leisure (4.9%), Music (4.9%), Sports (4.4%), TV & Film (3.2%), Technology (2.5%), Science (2.2%), and Kids & Family (2.2%).

San Francisco-based Listen Notes was launched in 2017 by Webian Fang, who in the latest update to users says Listen Notes now allows users to download audio and video clips.