Seeing your podcast increase? Covid probably boosted it by 76%
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Seeing your podcast increase? Covid probably boosted it by 76%

In this Marketing Report:

900,000 podcasts were created in 2020. With only 300,000 podcasts created in 2019, Sortlist, the platform that matches companies with agencies, decided to investigate this rapidly growing medium. We asked 500 CEOs, managers, and team leaders of small and medium businesses (SMBs) across Europe who saw their podcast increase; Covid might be to blame.

Here’s what we found about their audio content use and the podcast industry, as both consumers and as an advertising strategy for their business and for radio advertising agencies.

Radio vs Clubhouse 

Radio is still the king of audio, Clubhouse has yet to make its mark


have, or are open to buy products from advertisements on audio content

Job related Audio Content

Only 10% of people listen to audio content related to their job vs 29% for hobbies

Audio content: the preferred pandemic content

90% of people listen to audio content

An overwhelming amount of people answered that they frequently listen to audio content. Every country had at least 90% of answers as yes with a high of 92% in France, according to our podcast stats.

audio content consumption chart

Audio content consumption led to podcast increase; Covid major booster

In correspondence with the previous question, we asked whether audio consumption had increased or decreased since the first Covid-19 restrictions came into place.

audio consumption since covid

The Commuting Twist

For those who responded that they consumed audio content, we also asked them when they would most likely listen to it.

Every country, with the exception of the Netherlands, had at least 53% of people responding that they listen to audio content while commuting or doing repetitive tasks.  Although only 33.63% of Dutch respondents gave this response, it was still the winning answer just in front of listening whilst at work (32.74%).

audio content time of consumption

Radio is king, podcasts are rising, but Clubhouse…?

Podcast listening is a clear 2nd favorite with 36% of people

Although not as high as radio, a significant amount of people in some countries answered that they preferred to consume audio content via podcasts.  In Germany, preference for podcasts is 8% less than it is for radio, while in France, it is only 6% less.  However, those surveyed in the Netherlands responded with 11% fewer podcasts over the radio and an impressive 20% less in Spain.

preferred types of audio content

Considered radio’s biggest rival, podcasts have continued to grow in popularity in the past few years and in contrast, they are able to draw in the younger generations. 18 to 44-year-olds make up 67% of the podcast audience around the world. With time, these generations – the lovers of podcast hosts – will eclipse those who show a preference for radio.

Clubhouse’s exclusivity means only 3% of podcast listeners use it

Ironically, as one of several social media platforms based on voice, Clubhouse seems to be all talk and no action… Backed by big names such as Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg, this much-hyped app is now worth over $1 billion dollars after just 10 months of existence. However, from what our survey shows, it is hard to tell where this worth is coming from. Less than 3% of Europeans are actually using this app!

clubhouse trigger

With a high of 2.65% of audio content consumers using Clubhouse in the Netherlands, 2.63% in Germany, 0.87% in France, and 0% in Spain, this form of listening to audio content still has a long way to go if it wishes to compete with the rest.

Apple Podcasts and Deezer should watch what Spotify just did…

Spotify is launching itself into live audio content too. The audio streaming platform is buying Betty Labs, the creators of the live audio social app ‘Locker Room’ which focuses on sports. Spotify announced that their collaboration will add “unparalleled data, insights, and strength in user experience, to build-out a full complement of live and on-demand offerings for users and creators across the globe.”

Could this mean the rise and fall for start-ups like Clubhouse?

Maybe…maybe not. For Thomas Angerer, co-founder and CCO of BeInfluence Europe, Clubhouse is a promising place where social media accounts are giving rise to audio content in an exponential manner. For him, the invitation system for professionals gives businesses the opportunity to position themselves as an expert in their field in relation to other professionals that may be interested in your industry.

beinfluence logo

“With BeInfluence, we started the adventure at the end of February with the creation of a weekly “room” on Tuesday mornings in which we discuss the latest trends in influence, as well as a club gathering users interested in the subject. We have an average of 80 listeners per room and the club already has over 500 members and followers! There are real business opportunities. I’ve met some really interesting people for BeInfluence over the course of the rooms and two clients have already contacted us to offer our influence services after listening to us on Clubhouse!”

BeInfluence – Thomas Angerer

User intent: What’s flowing through the headphones? Not just streaming music

#1 Audio content you listen to is related to hobbies; Spain chooses growth podcast

We wanted to get an insight into what type of content people were listening to. Our results lined up with Manuel Fraga’s most famous slogan: “Spain is different.”

Although France (34.78%), the Netherlands (29.2%), and Germany (35.09%) listen mostly to audio content related to hobbies, Spain was even more spaced around content related to the news (29.82%), stories, and entertainment (28.07%), and hobbies (27.19%). It shows it’s the most popular podcast genre.

type of audio content being listened to

Keep calm and listen to a podcast

We also wanted to take a look into regular podcast listeners’ main intent when listening to audio content.

In alignment with the previous question, those from France (37.39%), the Netherlands (43.36%), and Germany (34.21%) listen in majority to audio content to help them relax and Spain (40.35%), to learn new things.

reasons for choosing audio content

People listen to leisure content 3x more than business content

According to Chartable, the leading category for podcasts created in 2020 was education with 133,107. Leisure, however, came in 10th place with only 47, 584 new podcasts.

From our survey, it seems like supply is out doing demand since a large portion of listeners steers away from the educational content.

quote on audio content

What does this mean from a business perspective?

Audio content may just be the place where you should mix business and pleasure…

If businesses are looking to expand into audio content, it is important that they remain flexible and create content that appeals to users’ wants. Although business podcasts were the 4th most launched podcasts in 2020 with 85,155, clearly one of the most popular podcast genres, only 10% of people listen to audio content related to their job. That is double the amount of new podcasts for an audience that is almost three times smaller (29%) than those who prefer to listen to podcast content related to leisure. 

The love/hate relationship between advertising and audio content

Consumer Perspective: 46% of people are persuaded by audio advertising and the podcast host

Podcast advertising seems to have a positive impact on podcast fans’ purchasing habits.

46% of listeners can imagine themselves purchasing a product thanks to an advertisement they heard from a podcast host or as part of a podcast episode, and 31% have already taken the step and done so. Only 8% stand with a firm no, denying the satisfaction to the podcast advertising market.

podcast advertisement purchase

Business Perspective: Only 19% of businesses had advertised on audio content

Although those surveyed seemed to have adopted a positive purchasing attitude towards audio content advertising, their business and media strategy does not reflect that of their consumer’s.

advertising on podcasts

49% of CEOs, managers, and team leaders can imagine themselves advertising on podcasts and only 19% have already done so, showing that podcast advertising revenue is as enticing as they com. On the other hand, in the Netherlands, more people were inclined to say no altogether to advertising on podcasts (29.2%) to their target audience, versus those who had already do it (17.7%).

Podcast growth and advertising are starting to have to sit comfortably together nowadays. In 2020, there was an average of 160 new advertisers per week on podcasts. In January of last year, each advertisement was appearing on average on 3.6 shows and by November, the average jumped to 6.2.

With a podcast being created every 30 seconds around the world, there is plenty of space for businesses to create advertisements. Podcasts are also the best place to catch the eye of younger audiences. 48% of US monthly podcast listeners are between 12-34 years old. This age bracket that steers away from radio and uses adblockers on various other mediums is an easy catch on podcasts. Additionally, in 2018, podcast advertising hit $479 million in revenue and it is projected that in 2021, the number will hit $1 billion.

The Advertising Catch

Although some may have shown an interest in advertising, they have also shown the intricacies that come with it.

Roughly 63% of all people surveyed responded that they have stopped listening to audio content due to advertising.

Podcast ads may be great for some, but it can also turn others away; some users prefer listening to something else. Businesses need to find an original way to keep listeners engaged during their advertisements to avoid the audio advertising catch.

advertising on podcasts puts away listeners


Audio content may be changing, but it’s still old school. People still like to tune into the radio and are taking their time in their transition to more modern ways. However, the time will indeed come when we show preference to streaming devices and podcast consumption.

Businesses are also taking their time to hit the advertising sound wave, but as consumers, they have already been convinced… although, beware of the overadvertising catch.

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