A century after the world’s first commercial radio broadcast, podcasts are bigger than ever.
The media landscape is pure sci-fi compared to 1920. Video games, 3D cinema, and artificially intelligent household devices battle for our attention. But the humble radio show has evolved to keep up.
The podcast is simple and convenient: you listen when you want, where you want. It demands only your ears, a fraction of your attention. One report found that 65% of podcast fans listen on portable devices, and 90% of listeners do so at home – suggesting we love to listen while getting on with other stuff. The gym, car, and public transport are other popular venues.
At the other end of the wire, podcast popularity means big money. Advertising revenue will hit $1.7 billion by 2024. And Top Dollar estimates that the world’s top podcast is worth $72 million per year.
We identified the most-heard podcasts in every country with available data. Next, we estimated their potential earnings in the last 12 months by assuming three 60-second ads per episode and sourcing CPM (cost per thousand impressions) values from AdvertiseCast. Finally, we did the same for the top genre podcasts in every country and arranged our findings into a new set of original maps.
● The highest-earning podcast in the US and the world is The Joe Rogan Experience, with $72.3m in potential earnings.
● Europe’s top-earning podcast is Sh**ged Married Annoyed, a comedy show from the UK with an estimated value of $10.6m per year.
● The highest-earning business podcast is US show The GaryVee Audio Experience, with $6.3m.
● We found 14 countries where the most-listened show has potential earnings of over $1m.
What’s the Top-Earning Podcast in Your Country?
The Joe Rogan Experience is the top-earning podcast in the US and the world. Rogan is a comedian with a political edge who got in early, starting his show in 2009. Today, his listenership rivals the top talk radio shows, with an average of nearly 5m plays of each of his 180 episodes per year. We reckon this means he’s good for $72,287,456 in annual ad revenue.
The remainder of the top ten national big-earners is mostly divided between Europe and Asia. The UK is home to the second-biggest earner, Sh**ged Married Annoyed. The comedy show is described as the only way the married hosts “can have a conversation without being interrupted by a toddler or ending up staring at their phones.” We estimate their potential earnings at $10,563,670.
Gary Vaynerchuk Hosts World’s Top Business Podcast
Five countries have top business podcasts worth more than $1m a year: the US, Brazil, Germany, Italy and Russia. The top Russian number one is Книги на миллион, loosely-translated as Books In A Million. Each episode condenses a business-themed book into a 10-minute podcast. The show has an average of 147,156 plays per episode and potential earnings of $1,038,336 annually.
World number one is The GaryVee Audio Experience ($6.3m/year) in the US, hosted by entrepreneur and podcast evangelist Gary Vaynerchuk. “The reason people are consuming more content than ever is because the consumption tools are now portable and we take advantage of every second,” says Vaynerchuk of the podcast phenomenon. “Today’s podcasts and audio series are yesterday’s AM/FM and drive time radio.”
Highest-Earning Comedy is Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
Everybody likes a giggle, and comedy is the genre with the highest-earners across the top 10. Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard “celebrates the messiness of being human” in the ears of 2,484,881 twice-weekly listeners. The US show is the top comedy in our study and has an estimated ad haul of $27,969,825.
Germany may not be known for its comic output, but Baywatch Berlin is the fourth highest-earning top national comedy in the world ($1.6m/year). A trio of hosts presents a clumsy guide to “real life” with emphasis on their professional TV work. Regular features include “I make you better dot com” and “I don’t want to talk about that.”
American Sports Podcasts Eclipse International Rivals
The sports podcast is disproportionately popular in the US. America’s top sports podcast, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, scores $26,565,731 in annual ad revenue, according to our calculations. That’s 40 times the revenue of the second-biggest national show, the UK’s James Smith Podcast, which brings in $655,636.
Iceland’s top overall podcast is also the world’s third most-listened national sports podcast. Dr. Football offers “empowering football discussion in pure Icelandic,” hosted by Hjörvar Hafliðason, and its website comes in intriguing light (WELFARE – EQUALITY – TRANSPARENCY) and dark (SEX, DRUGS & ROCK’N’ROLL) themes. The podcast gets 35,545 plays per episode – a fraction of the James Smith Podcast – but earns $643,231 by virtue of broadcasting 208 episodes per year.
Brazil’s Loop Matinal is World’s Top-Earning Tech Podcast
Tech is the only genre in our study to have a non-US podcast as world number one. Loop Matinal is the daily podcast of Brazilian YouTube channel Loop Infinito, delivering tech news in a humorous and accessible fashion. The show has just 1/10th the listenership of second-placed Darknet Diaries from the US but a marginally higher earn of $1,935,359, thanks to 250+ annual episodes.
The fifth-biggest national tech show is Taiwan’s M觀點 | 科技X商業X投資 (M View | Technology X Business X Investment). The host is Miula, author of the respected Technology Giant Decoding e-newsletter, as well as some of Taiwan’s most successful online games. His show gets 18,038 listens per episode, creating a potential ad haul of $213,421.
My Favorite Murder is World’s Favorite Crime Podcast
If you like true crime podcasts, there’s a good chance you’re a “Murderino” – a fan of My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. Nearly 3m Murderinos turn out for each episode of the hit US show, facilitating a potential ad revenue of $27,080,566. “Kilgariff and Hardstark bring a much-needed dimension to our current, true crime fever dream,” raves Patton Oswald. “An empathetic, slangy dose of acidic humor, weary compassion, and nervous hope.”
My Favorite Murder makes ten times the next top national true crime show: Australian True Crime. Meshel Laurie and Emily Webb interview criminals, victims, crime authors, and other experts, delving “deep behind the headlines.” They produce a little over one podcast per week on average, with estimated ad potential of $2,596,975 per year.
Big-earning podcasters like the ones in our study are very much the exception to the norm. In fact, the top 1% of podcasts benefit from 99% of all podcast downloads. However, advertising revenue is set to soar faster than for any other medium, and the listener numbers are yet to hit critical mass. If you have a subject about which you’re passionate and knowledgeable, podcasting could just be a long-term winner.
If you’re interested in checking out the data behind the project for yourself, you can view it all here:
METHODOLOGY & SOURCES
We compiled the top 20 podcasts in individual countries across both Spotify and Apple lists using Chartable. Then we found the selected podcasts on Castbox and recorded the number of plays, number of overall episodes, and the number of episodes in the last 12 months.
Following the calculation that CastboxFM sees about 2% of overall plays, we multiplied the number of plays by 50 and calculated the number of plays by episode. We then estimated potential earnings in the last 12 months by assuming three 60 second ads per episode and taking CPM values from AdvertiseCast. We repeated the process for particular genres: True Crime, Business, Comedy, Technology and Sports.
The data was collected in February 2021.