As Acast considers IPO, a release of 2020 insights: Large annual growth in plays, audience, and brand advertising

Acast has released a review of 2020 metrics revealing year-over-year growth metrics and the company’s current global footprint. At the same time, the company sent us a notice of a Board review of “potential strategic and financial initiatives.” The notice is brief, indicating that the review will happen in the spring, and will include consideration of “an initial public offering and listing of the company’s shares.”

More on that in coming months, presumably. Acast currently employs a staff of 300 employees. The company has raised $126-million in funding, $55-million of that coming in 2020 from European Investment Bank.

In the meantime, Acast supplied a raft of 2020 metrics. The top two headline bullets:

  • In the U.S., 2020 produced a 66% growth in listens compared to 2019.
  • Also in the U.S., audience reach increased 149%, beating the company’s projection by double.

In a bit of data diving, Acast notes that California produced the most listens in the U.S., and South Dakota the least number of listens. Hey, California is big and populous.

That’s the U.S.; Acast operates in 10 countries. Here are data points from that bigger purview:

  • Podcast listens continues to surge world-wide: 3B listens across Acast-hosted content in 2020, an increase of more than half the number of listens recorded in 2019 (59%), with significant growth in Mexico (245%)

  • Spikes in the number of episodes consumed: podcast episode consumption jumped 30% in November 2020, the biggest monthly increase of the year

  • News & Politics was the most listened-to category: Listens to podcasts in the News & Politics category (as defined by the IAB) increased 34% versus 2019. Global News Podcast by BBC World Service was the most listened-to podcast globally and in the U.S. in 2020

  • Creators are meeting the demand for more content: 144% increase in number of podcasts hosted by Acast

  • Pre-covid commuter pastime shifts to daily routine: beginning March 2020, peak daily listen periods shifted from early morning and evening to steadier, more consistent listening throughout the day, with this trend continuing in 2021

Another section of this 2020 review focuses on Acast marketplace, a podcast buying platform. Acast says that 3,000 brands globally participate in this marketplace, including over a third of Fortune 100 companies. “Acast’s data shows podcast advertising to be an important part of the media mix,” the report states, and backs it up with these U.S. and global metrics:

United States:

  • Acast Marketplace empowers advertisers of all sizes: Global giants such as AT&T, as well as powerful niche players such as Theragun, Third Love, and Headspace, advertised through Acast in 2020

  • Podcast advertising becomes more established: individual brand spend with Acast was up 119% in comparison to 2019, with the number of $100K+ campaigns increasing 126%. Acast ran 2,885 individual, talent-led sponsorship creatives — more than twice the number in 2019


  • Podcast advertising is on the rise: Acast recorded 71% increase in advertising revenue growth compared to 2019, with 40% growth in the number of new advertisers.

  • Programmatic buying grows in popularity: Acast Automated saw programmatic ad sales revenue increase 215% compared to 2019.

  • Brands are investing in bespoke content: Acast saw revenue from branded content — including dedicated branded segments within existing podcasts, full branded episodes, and standalone branded podcast series — increase 258% compared to 2019.


Brad Hill