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Podcasting's rosy future

In this illustration, an old fashioned metal radio mic is surrounded by giant red exclamation marks.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The podcast boom shows no sign of slowing down.

Driving the news: Shonda Rhimes, who already has a nine-figure TV deal with Netflix, has now signed a 3-year podcasting deal with iHeartPodcast Network, creating Shondaland Audio in the process. Other TV companies, like HBO, are making podcasts themselves, with significant success.

  • Vox Media alone has more than 200 podcasts, compared with 67 on NPR.
  • Venture capitalists have invested more than $270 million in the podcasting industry this year, according to Pitchbook; they also got their first major exit when Gimlet Media was sold to Spotify for $325 million.

Where it stands: There's a lot of room to grow. Global music industry revenues are more than $20 billion a year, while podcasting doesn't come close yet to making $1 billion a year — even when you include a slew of lucrative live events.

  • Smart speakers are growing fast, and will help solve one of the biggest problems in the podcasting industry, which is the difficulty of playing the podcast you want at the time you want it.
  • Apple's AirPods, too, make podcast-listening much easier in a slew of different contexts.

The bottom line: Podcasts monetize at only about 1 cent per listener-hour, according to an Andreessen Horowitz analysis. Radio generates more than 10 times as much.

Go deeper: The New York Times' "The Daily" podcast hits 1 billion downloads