One Problem for Booming Podcast Industry

Most popular shows are older ones, and it's increasingly hard for new shows to climb
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2022 4:05 PM CST
Podcasts Are Booming, but New Hits Are Hard to Find

The number of people who listen to podcasts is bigger than ever, as is the number of available podcasts, writes Lucas Shaw at Bloomberg. But related to those two stats is another vexing one for the industry: It's tough for new shows to get established. Shaw points to the latest rankings of the top podcasts from Edison Research and notes that none of the top 10 "debuted in the last couple years." Some may quibble by noting that The Office Ladies, at No. 9, began in the fall of 2019, but the bigger point remains: The shows in the top 10 "are an average of more than 7 years old, and three of the top five are more than a decade old," writes Shaw. Those three: The Joe Rogan Experience, This American Life, Stuff You Should Know.

Going further down the list, just a few in the top 10 are less than 2 years old—exceptions are SmartLess, The Michelle Obama Podcast, Frenemies—and none of them crack the top 25. Shaw likens the "fragmentation" to what has happened elsewhere: Just five years ago, it was much easier to establish a big audience on YouTube than it is today, which is part of the reason people flocked to TikTok. Expect the same to happen to the latter site. Podcast platforms somehow need to find a better way to catch the attention of listeners, a feat that has grown more complicated now that Apple only wants to plug shows that take part in its subscription platform, writes Shaw. A reaction piece at the Verge notes that critics point out there are other ways to measure success than audience size.

Here are the top 10 podcasts, per Edison Research:

  1. The Joe Rogan Experience
  2. The Daily
  3. Crime Junkie
  4. This American Life
  5. Stuff You Should Know
  6. My Favorite Murder
  7. Pod Save America
  8. Serial
  9. Office Ladies
  10. Call Her Daddy
(More podcasts stories.)

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