Podcast Revenue Expected to Hit $1 Billion by 2021

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The industry hit $479 million in revenue in 2018, per a report from IAB and PwC.

The podcasting industry is booming but it hasn't yet reached its peak, according to a new report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. 

Podcast advertising revenue hit an estimated $479 million in 2018, a 53 percent bump from $314 million in 2017, IAB and PwC are reporting based on a survey of the top revenue-producing podcast companies in the U.S. They are forecasting that the industry will reach $1 billion by 2021. 

The growth of the industry comes as podcasting becomes more mainstream. Listening in the U.S. was up 7 percent in 2018, and, per Edison Research's April report, more than half of the population aged 12 and above have listened to a podcast. The top podcasts of 2018, based on Podtrac's analysis of average per-episode downloads, were Dan Carlin's Hardcore History, Serial, This American Life, Radiolab and Dr. Death.  

Per the IAB report, the most popular programs for advertisers were news, politics and current events shows, which captured more than 18 percent of advertising revenue. Other in-demand genres included comedy (14 percent) and business (13 percent). 

The advertisers that brought in the most revenue to the industry were direct-to-consumer retail brands (22 percent), financial services (21 percent), business-to-business (14 percent) and arts and entertainment (10 percent). 

Podcasting began to catch on after the 2012 launch of Apple's stand-alone app for the audio shows. The first true breakout was Serial, which captured audiences with its 2015 first season. As the industry has grown, so, too, have the companies looking to capture a piece of the ballooning revenue pool. Companies like Gimlet Media, Endeavor Audio, Crooked Media and Wondery have launched to produce original shows. Now, more established companies are also entering the fray. Within the last year, both Spotify and iHeartMedia have made acquisitions in the space to bolster their audio entertainment capabilities.