Deloitte report sees podcast revenue breaking the $1 billion milestone this year

Deloitte released its annual report with predictions for the tech, media, and telecom sectors. The analysis included a section devoted to audiobooks and podcasts. Deloitte predicted that the global podcast market would grow 30% to $1.1 billion in 2020, while it pegged the global audiobook market as growing 25% to $3.5 billion. If that result is reached, it would be the first time podcasts generate more than $1 billion.

The Podcast Projection

The report took a measured approach to its outlook for podcasts. “If future growth remains as high as in the past few years, podcasts could be a $3.3 billion–plus business by 2025,” Deloitte said. But it also observed that achieving that scale will require both international growth and improved monetization.

It highlighted how podcasting business models have limited revenue to date. The report claimed that an audiobook listener yields more than 2.4 times the annual revenue of a podcast listener.

A large source of Deloitte’s caution around monetization success was that most podcasts are available for free listening, which the report argued would mean a larger hurdle in creating subscription platforms or other models of paid access to content. While there have been some experiments in premium membership from podcasting networks, audio advertising technology has been a field with more innovation in recent years. Podcast companies and advertising specialists have been working on tools to have more effective and lucrative ads at scale without sacrificing the strong connection that listeners have with their favorite shows and hosts. Deloitte’s focus on imitating the models of audiobooks or streaming audio may mean that its revenue forecasts for podcasts are more conservative.

The Audiobook Market

Audiobooks’ largest market is the United States. The country is expected to see $1.5 billion in 2020 revenue and with growth projected to continue at rates between 20% and 25% each year. Eighteen percent of the U.S. adult population said they’d listened to an audiobook in the past year in a 2018 survey. The likely growth rates put the current listener base at about 73 million adults in the U.S. having listened to at least one audiobook in the past year.

China is close behind with anticipated 2020 revenue of about $1 billion. The local listener data is also less recent. A 2017 survey found that 22.8% of the population listened to at least one audiobook that year. Deloitte predicted that the current audience in China is likely more than a quarter of the country’s citizens.

Deloitte anticipated that smart speakers could help drive continued growth for audiobooks, as will subscription streaming services. The report also noted that in the U.S., a lot of the audiobook audience listens in their cars, indicating that markets with long commutes may be more likely to yield interest. Audiobooks specifically for children may also be an area for growth.

Anna Washenko