Previously, we’ve called it the Serial effect.
Ever since the true crime audio series captivated much of the US last year, it’s felt like everyone (or those in the media world at least) is talking about podcasts. Indeed, despite the death of the device upon which they were spawned (the iPod) right now really is the podcast’s moment in the sun.
According to data compiled by Pew Research for its annual State of the Media report, awareness of podcasts grew significantly last year. One-third of all Americans now say they have listened to a podcast; 17% said they had listened to one in the last month alone, as of January.
The really impressive growth seems to be in the number of podcasts being produced and consumed.
Last year, there were 2.6 billion podcast download requests on Libsyn, one of the biggest commercial podcast hosting companies, the Pew report says. That’s an increase of 37% from a year earlier.
The number of podcasts being hosted on Libsyn, a rough proxy for the amount being produced, grew even faster (up 37.5%).
Everyone from America’s biggest radio company (iHeartMedia), to hot/controversial media startup BuzzFeed, to us here at Quartz has recently dived into the medium.
This is at least in part a reflection of how the mobile phone has become the dominant consumer device of our age (63% of those download requests were from mobile devices—up from 43% in 2012). Advertisers are interested in podcasts because they (arguably) offer higher engagement levels than visual forms of media like text and video. Until advertisers find their next media darling, there are sure to be many more podcasts to come.