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The Rise of Podcasts

Podcasting was coined back in 2004 by journalist Ben Hammersly, who worked at The Guardian, by merging ‘iPod’ and ‘Broadcast’ in an article named ‘Audible Revolution’ – fast forward 15 years and podcasting has become a worldwide phenomenon, with 850,000 active podcasts, 30 million episodes, and content in more than 100 languages.

But what exactly is a podcast? 

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a Podcast is a “digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new instalments of which can be received by subscribers automatically”.

Podcasts have continued to pick up momentum in more recent years due to popular household names such as Chris Ramsey becoming involved, launching his series ‘Sh*gged, Married, Annoyed’. 

Household names such as Pretty Little Thing have also utilised the platform to create a new audience group, with their series ‘Behind Closed Doors’, alongside social media influencers who are looking to diversify their following. 

With this in mind, there is now a podcast out there for everyone, and a platform that was once niche, now has a variety of genres for listeners to enjoy and achieve escapism.

Ofcom have found that around 7.1 million people in the UK now listen to podcasts each week. That’s one in eight people and is an increase of 24% over the past year, highlighting that momentum behind the platform is only just getting started!

They also collected data from a range of sources, including RAJAR, Chartable and the BBC, to explore the continued rise in podcast listening. They found:

  • Entertainment is the most popular podcast genre, followed by comedy, then discussion and talk shows
  • Half of those we surveyed had been listening to podcasts for less than two years
  • Podcasts are helping listeners to discover new radio programmes
  • The BBC had the highest reach of all podcast publishers among those we surveyed
  • On average, regular podcast users listen to around seven podcasts each week
  • 22% of people who own a smart speaker use them to listen to podcasts – one in five homes in the UK now own one or more smart speakers


It’s also important to note that since podcasts have continued to grow, brands have realised that advertising on the platform has become commercially viable – being able to target specific audiences who are enjoying certain podcasts of certain genres.

Brands including Depop, Hayu and Electronic Arts are just a few who are really beginning to utilise the platform.

Similarly, content creators who were once inclined to use platforms such as YouTube and Instagram as their only way of earning an income, have now started to take advantage of the monetary opportunities available by hosting their own podcasts, as brands can now sponsor and advertise on their episodes.

With a bigger reach in audience comes more opportunity for revenue channels for creators too. Hosting live podcast shows, where the audience gets to sit in on a recording is a way in which this is becoming more prominent.

Ticket sales for popular shows can be substantial, much like live performing brings in a significant portion of any musician’s income, podcasting seems to be doing the same for hosts of podcasts.

As people lead busier lives, listening to podcasts has become a method of entertainment or education while driving, cleaning and travelling, and as more brands, news outlets and content creators see the potential with podcasts, the population using the platform will only continue to grow.


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