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Hollywood stars entered the podcasting space with aplomb during the pandemic, making up 22 — or 11 percent — of the top 200 new podcasts launched in 2020, according to a report from the podcast app Stitcher on Wednesday.
While The Joe Rogan Experience, This American Life and The Daily remained the top three most-listened shows in 2020, new offerings from top names like Rob Lowe (Literally! With Rob Lowe); Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes (SmartLess); and Zach Braff and Donald Faison (Fake Doctors, Real Friends With Zach and Donald) were among the top 200 new podcasts launched during the pandemic. The Office Ladies, a podcast hosted by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey that launched in late 2019, ranked as the 15th most-listened to show for 2020, just under Serial.
SmartLess in particular resonated most with listeners age 35 to 54, based on data about which new shows users “favorited,” while The Office Ladies was the most popular with listeners age 13 to 17.
The celebrity-hosted shows came amid a 23 percent increase in new shows in 2020, compared to 2019, and a 7 percent increase in monthly listening hours, according to the report from Stitcher, which is owned by satellite radio giant SiriusXM.
The Hollywood podcast boom doesn’t show signs of stopping, either, as popular shows and talent strike massive deals with major media companies and podcast studios. Last month, Amazon acquired the exclusive rights to Bateman, Arnett and Hayes’ SmartLess podcast in a deal worth upwards of $80 million. Spotify has also inked multiyear deals with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Obamas and Ava DuVernay, as well as a podcasting deal for a criminal-justice show from Kim Kardashian West.
Amy Fitzgibbons, Stitcher’s chief marketing officer, said the pandemic only further cemented podcasting’s status in entertainment as people “sought a sense of connection during periods of isolation.”
“Podcasting is a powerful medium that has not only prevailed, but thrived,” Fitzgibbons said.
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