Podcasts predate the iPhone, Spotify and Netflix’s streaming service. But thanks to such things, they’re finally starting to catch on with the general public.
The term “podcast” was first coined by a Guardian journalist in 2004 in an article about online radio, and the first ones appeared even earlier than that, even if they weren’t called “podcasts.” For years, few people tuned in. But, as we can see in this chart from Statista, which is based on data from Edison Research and Triton Digital, podcast listening has finally started to take off. Six in 10 Americans now know what a podcast is, and four in 10 have listened to one at some point.
The increase in podcast consumption could be attributed to a rise in the overall consumption of digital media. The proliferation of smartphones has also helped make downloading and listening to shows easier than ever.
But the format got a big boost in 2014 with the first season of Sarah Koenig’s show, “Serial,” which reached 5 million downloads faster than any other podcast before it. Now everyone from Snooki to Goldman Sachs has a podcast, and major media companies like HBO and the BBC are upping the game by bringing big budgets and talent to the format.