The torrid pace of new content creation continued during the first half of 2021. The number of new podcasts that debuted during the first six months of the year total 486,355 according to the podcast search engine Listen Notes. That is more than the 383,678 new podcasts that debuted during the first half of 2020 when lockdowns led to many launches. By Listen Notes’ count, at mid-year there are at least 2,549,352 podcasts. That is a 34% increase from the end of 2020 – and the number continues to grow by the hour.
The month-to-month tally shows the first quarter was a lot more active for new show creation when about 150,000 new shows launched. March had the most, accounting for 102,000. But as the impact of the pandemic has faded in recent months, and Americans were more on the go, new show launches declined in each consecutive month during the second quarter. In June the fewest number of debuts – about 53,000 – were logged so far this year.
Listen Notes says 14,561,337 new episodes were published during the first half of the year. That would suggest the pace of episode releases is on par with 2020. Even so, the clear longer-term view is one of solid growth. The number of episodes published during the first six months of 2021 is more than were released during the entire year in 2018.
Even as the topline number shows there is no shortage of shows to pick from, the number of podcasts that are considered “active” represents fewer than half of the 2.5 million shows that have been released since podcasting was created. Listen Notes says 761,441 podcasts have released an episode so far during 2021.
The number of so-called “dead podcasts” – which it puts at 23,367 at mid-year – is fewer than the 24,517 shows that died during the same period last year. The number of so-called “dead podcasts” – which it puts at 24,517 so far – is also tracking lower than last year. That number is currently 1.8% for the first half compared to 2.9% for all of 2019. The number of “dead” podcasts is currently 0.9% of all shows. That compares to 1.8% a year ago and 2.9% midway through 2019.
Two-thirds of all podcasts originate in the U.S., although the 64% total is lower than it had been previously. Not unexpectedly, most shows are in English. Listen Notes tabulates 61% of podcasts are in English. That is down four points from the end of 2020 when 65% were English-language shows. It reflects the continued growth in the number of Spanish- and Portuguese-language podcasts. The tally shows 12% of podcasts are in Spanish with 7% in Portuguese, driven by the fast-growing Brazilian podcast market. Indonesian (5%) and German (3%) round out the top five.
The top genre remains Society & Culture, which represented 13.6% of all shows. It is followed by Education (12.2%), Arts (9.7%), Business (8.7%), Religion & Spirituality (8.5%), Comedy (7.5%), Health & Fitness (6.0%), News (5.1%), Music (5.0%), Leisure (4.9%), and Sports (4.5%).
San Francisco-based Listen Notes was launched in 2017 by Webian Fang as an independent podcast database, not affiliated with any big companies.