Podcast listening is most popular in English- and Spanish-speaking countries

For the first time, the eMarketer forecasting team at Insider Intelligence has produced a comprehensive set of international forecasts for podcast listeners. We can now estimate and project podcast penetration for 18 major markets around the world, enough for us to develop a representative snapshot for global podcast listening.

The 18 countries include a vast majority of the largest podcast markets in the world. This cohort also comprises nearly all the core nations for podcast marketability, monetization, and advertising.

We drew a range of regional and international conclusions based on this latest data. Our major findings include:

  • Podcasts are most popular in English-speaking and English-proficient countries.
  • North America and Asia-Pacific have the most podcast listeners, but very different levels of adoption among their populations.
  • Several emerging markets are growing their podcast listener base rapidly, particularly in Latin America.

Like many entertainment products, podcasts are an increasingly borderless medium. However, unlike movies, TV, sports, and music, podcasts are very difficult to enjoy if the listener does not understand the language spoken by the content creator. This reality is shaping the development of podcast audiences across the globe. Led by the US, countries with primarily English-speaking populations have embraced podcasts the most deeply.

The US is the global podcast leader, in terms of both content production and listener adoption. With the enormous US-made library of podcast content, English speakers around the world have a wider array of shows available to them than non-English speakers do. This in turn smooths the path for podcast adoption in countries with high levels of English-language proficiency.

Conversely, countries with primary languages that are not prevalent in other major markets rank lower in podcast adoption. Japan, South Korea, France, Germany, and Italy largely rely on local creators to generate an attractive podcasting ecosystem for the average consumer. These countries have relatively fewer podcast listeners so far.

Notably, Spanish is well on the way to becoming the second universal language for podcasting. Spanish-language podcasting, and podcast penetration within Spanish-speaking populations, will rise in tandem over the next few years. In 2021, Spain will have the highest podcast penetration rate (30.0% of internet users) among countries with limited English proficiency, and Mexico will post a higher rate (25.8% of internet users) than much of Europe.

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