The US is the undisputed front-runner within the global podcasting ecosystem, in terms of both content production and listener adoption.
In 2021, 40.0% of US internet users will listen to a podcast at least once per month. No other country comes close to matching this figure (Sweden, home of Spotify, will be in second place with 34.6%). The US will also have the most monthly podcast listeners, at 117.8 million—over 40 million more than our aggregate figure for Europe. China will be in second place, with 85.6 million listeners.
This year, for the first time, more than half of all digital audio listeners in the US will also be podcast listeners. By the end of 2024, that figure will cross the 60% mark. Among digital consumers in the US, podcast listening has become mainstream in a surprisingly rapid fashion.
Thanks to the enormous US-made library of podcast content, English speakers around the world have a wider array of shows available to them than non-English speakers do. This smooths the path for podcast adoption in countries with high levels of English-language proficiency.
Conversely, the countries boasting the most engagement with podcasts are, not surprisingly, those facing the slowest listener growth rates going forward. The high base of listenership among internet users in places like North America, Australia, and the Nordic countries means that a rapid influx of new listeners is no longer possible.
Listening to podcasts has become commonplace in the US, but growth will decelerate from now on because the base is so high. The US will expand its podcast listenership by just 6.1% next year, one of the slower rates in the world.