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US podcast listeners will spend an average of 54 minutes per day tuned into programming in 2024, per EMARKETER’s February 2024 forecast, presenting an opportunity for marketers to tap into an engaged audience. In this guide, we explore podcasting’s biggest platforms, unravel consumer insights and listening trends, and shed light on podcast ad spend and strategies. 

Podcasts are digital audio segments available to stream or download on-demand. Podcasts cover a huge range of topics, from broad news, education, or storytelling content to interests within subcultures such as true crime or pop culture. Popular podcast formats include on-the-ground reporting and interviews, in-studio conversations or roundtable discussions, scripted fiction (similar to audiobooks), and video podcasts. 

Compared with radio shows, podcasts are usually pre-recorded and edited, giving producers the chance to layer multiple audio clips gathered at different times. The result, often, is a more polished piece, which can be accessed online long after the episode is released. 

The immersive-yet-transportable nature of podcasts has fueled the rise of mobile apps like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and iHeartRadio, each offering an array of subscription options. 


Launched in 2008 as a music streaming service, Spotify introduced podcasts to its platform in 2015, according to Fast Company. Since then, Spotify has gained 602 million users and 236 million subscribers in more than 180 markets, according to the company, firmly establishing itself as one of the biggest players in audio streaming. Alongside more than 100 million songs, Spotify boasts 5 million podcast titles and counting. 

Spotify’s free subscription gives access to much of this content, with a catch: Users are not able to download music or listen without ads. In the US, premium plans range from $5.99 per month for students to $16.99 per month for families. 

Key stats in 2024: 

  • US Spotify podcast listeners will reach 43.1 million, increasing 11.7% YoY, per an August 2023 EMARKETER forecast. 
  • US Spotify listeners overall will spend an average of 16 minutes per day on the platform, accounting for 19.4% of time spent with digital audio, per a February 2024 EMARKETER forecast.  
  • Spotify will claim 31.8% of podcast listeners in the US, according to our August 2023 forecast.


Founded in 2008 as part of iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel Communications), iHeartRadio has more than 860 live broadcast stations in 160 markets across the US, according to the company. iHeartRadio’s basic membership starts free and ad-supported, then increases to Plus ($4.99 for Android/desktop users or $5.99 for Apple users) and All Access ($9.99 for Android/desktop users or $12.99 for Apple users) plans, which remove the skip limit, allow users to create personalized playlists, and enable downloads for offline listening. 

Key stats in 2024: 

  • US iHeartRadio podcast listeners will reach 33.1 million, increasing 8.9% YoY, per an August 2023 EMARKETER forecast.
  • iHeartRadio will claim nearly a quarter (24.4%) of podcast listeners in the US. 

Apple Podcasts  

Apple Podcasts was first released as an extension of iTunes in 2005, according to the company. In 2012, Apple launched a dedicated Podcasts app. Since then, it’s been a default app on Apple’s iOS, making it easy for the 132.6 million users who have Apple smartphones, according to a March 2023 EMARKETER forecast.

Although most podcasts on Apple are free, users can upgrade to Apple Podcast Subscriptions, which allows users to purchase subscriptions from individual creators. As a marketplace, prices and promotions are set by the creators.

Key stats in 2024: 

  • US Apple Podcast listeners will reach 28.7 million, and will approach nearly 30 million by 2027, per an August 2023 EMARKETER forecast. 
  • Apple Podcasts will claim 21.2% of podcast listeners in the US, with its share decreasing through to 2027.


Originally called Savage Beast Technologies, Pandora was founded in 2000 as a music kiosk software business, according to Fast Company. It then evolved into a personalized internet radio service, and was acquired by Sirius XM in 2018 for around $3.5 billion, per Variety.

Key stats in 2024: 

  • US Pandora listeners of music and podcasts will reach 42.5 million, and will decrease every year through 2027, per an August 2023 EMARKETER forecast. 
  • Pandora will account for 4.2% of total time spent with audio, per a February 2024 EMARKETER forecast. 

YouTube Premium  

YouTube Premium includes YouTube and YouTube Music ad-free, allowing users to watch and download videos for viewing without ads, according to the company. That includes watching video podcasts through YouTube Music.  

Key stats in 2024: 

Podcast audiences and demographics: Who listens to podcasts?

Millennials now make up the largest generation (32.7%) of US podcast listeners, reaching 44.3 million people, followed by Gen Zers (28.9%), reaching 39.1 million people, according to our August 2023 forecast. Gen Zers will see the biggest increases over the next few years, and in 2027, they will overtake millennials.

Podcasting isn’t surging as it did during the COVID-19 pandemic, when ad spend surged 55.1% YoY in 2021, according to our October 2023 forecast, and major audio platforms like Spotify invested big to meet growing demand. This gilded age saw Spotify, Amazon, and Apple pour millions to gain exclusive rights to the most popular podcasts—a strategy that didn’t pay off. The deals resulted in significantly slower listener growth for exclusive podcasts, and for Spotify-owned Gimlet Media, reduced overall listenership by as much as 75%, according to a statement from the company’s union. 

Since then, the industry has seen heavy rounds of layoffs and cancellations of prominent shows, adding to concern that the “podcast bubble” has burst. In reality, podcasting is only cooling off from its meteoric growth rates. In fact, podcast listenership is higher than it’s ever been, according to our US Digital Audio Forecast Overview 2023 report, and its high penetration has meant that growth was bound to taper off eventually. 

In 2024, 59.2% of US digital audio listeners will listen to a podcast at least once per month, totaling 135.4 million people, according to our August 2023 forecast. 

Podcast listenership around the world

Compared with the high saturation of digital video viewership and social media usage, podcast listeners still have room to grow in most markets.  

As of 2024, North America will have the most podcast listeners around the world, with 149.4 million listeners, according to an August 2023 EMARKETER forecast, largely due to the vast amount of English-language content available. The US alone, where podcasting is entirely mainstream, will have over 135 million podcast listeners in 2024, accounting for 39.6% of all internet users, according to our August 2022 forecast.  

Listener growth, however, will come largely from Latin America and China, which are set to exceed North America’s podcast listeners in 2025 and 2027, respectively, per our August 2023 data. In 2024, 147.5 million Latin Americans will be podcast listeners, bolstered by the popularity of Spanish as a second lingua franca of the podcasting ecosystem. 

China will add more than 60 million podcast listeners between 2023 and 2027, when it will have the most listeners of any other region at 178.7 million, according to our Global Podcast Listeners Forecast 2023 report. Still, by that time, it will have the lowest podcast penetration of any country we track because podcast awareness remains low. 

Podcast advertising 

With its unique ability to capture the attention of a highly engaged audience, podcasting offers a unique opportunity for advertisers. Often, podcast ads are integrated into the content, as ads can be either read by hosts or dynamically inserted based on contextual relevance. 

Most podcast ads are show-specific, rather than audience-based, per the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). And although 90% of podcast advertisers targeted based on geography and genre in 2023, publishers have an opportunity to hone in on more precise audience filters such as age and gender.

The same IAB report found that 42% of podcast ads were to drive brand awareness, compared with 39% for direct responses and 12% for branded content. 

Podcast ad spend 

Advertisers will spend $2.37 billion on podcasts in 2024, marking 19.1% YoY growth, according to an October 2023 EMARKETER forecast. Of that amount, 9.3% will be purchased programmatically, amounting to $220.0 million.

By 2026, podcast ads will pass the $3 billion milestone, accounting for 35.0% of spend on total digital audio services.

Advertisers may be wary of investing in podcasts because audio listeners are prone to multitasking and inventory can be competitive, with major streaming platforms focused on gaining ad-free subscribers over ad revenues. Yet, there’s still room for ad spend to catch up with time spent. Podcasts will make up 5.1% of US adults’ daily digital media time in 2024, but only 0.8% of digital ad spend.

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