As the situation changed, listening habits changed as well. There was a shift towards more listening at home this year compared to 2019—nearly one-third of respondents said they listened mainly at home, up from 23%. This was coupled with a dip in listening during commutes, down nearly 10 points from 2019.
Over 55% of survey respondents said they listened to more podcasts since March 2020. Nearly half of those added entertainment podcasts to their listening, indicating a clear desire for more fun, lighter listening in dreary times. Self-help and inspirational podcasts came in second at 36%. Only 2% said they actually listened to anything pandemic-related.
Additionally, podcasts are considered a reliable medium for news and updates, when compared to traditional media outlets. A study by Media Monitors found that 60% felt that podcasts were either more, or much more, trustworthy in their coverage of the pandemic compared to traditional media.
Local listeners seem to mirror this trend, with 65% of respondents to the Amaeya Media 2020 survey saying they find podcasts equally or more credible compared to traditional mediums of radio, newspaper and television.
At the end of 2019, we noted that there were 800,000 podcasts listed in the Apple Podcasts directory. That number sits at more than 1.7 million as 2020 came to a close—more than doubling in a single calendar year. In fact, during the last 90 days of 2020, a record 280,000 news shows were added to the directory. In fact, May saw 96,537 shows register with the directory, breaking the previous record of 90,977 shows in April.
Regionally, Podeo launched more than 75 podcasts with Arab celebrities, influencers and creators on their platform alone. The platform currently reports that a majority of their listens come from Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, followed by Egypt.
As more people explored working from home, podcasts definitely became a popular medium for content creation in 2020, over any year before it.
The breakdown of active  to inactive didn’t change too much year-on-year. 40.71% of shows are active, a drop of just 1% compared to 2019. The number of podcasts with more than 10 episodes though saw a significant drop, down 12.5 points to just 37.78% of total podcasts. This is a combination of the significant rise in new podcasts during the year, and that of changing priorities as the year continued to unravel.
We expect the active show data to see more changes next year, and a higher than usual ‘podfade’ rate as things normalise during 2021.
Podcast Industry Insights considers a show having published at least one episode in the previous 90 days as ‘active’. ↩︎