The Podcast Pioneers 2021 Podcast Industry Predictions

Here’s to a bright 2021 for podcasting. Photo by Ian Schneideron Unsplash
  • In spite of slashed advertising budgets, podcast spending continued to grow. The IAB’s July report suggested that the agility of the medium was attractive in fast-changing news environments, as well as the continued growth in adoption. Whether cash was directed to audio and podcasting as a means of reaching people when communication was most vital, or perhaps in cases where budgets intended for activities that could no longer go ahead were redistributed, podcasting continued to grow in 2020. Although growth prediction figures were revised down by the IAB after the Covid-19 pandemic had broken, it looks set to become a billion dollar industry in the US alone next year.
  • Greater creativity emerged in terms of the way programmes were made and what kind were commissioned. The Audio Content Fund created an additional funding round for audio programmes serving the public in lockdown including programmes highlighting diverse experiences of isolation, stories on domestic abuse, key workers voices and national heroes sharing their experience of this bizarre and worrying time. We all had to find ways of making programmes with new parameters to keep our contributors and staff safe too. In response to the flashpoint killing of George Floyd, every sector reappraised how honestly representative and diverse their communications are ethos were and many began to take fresh action. Previously marginalised voices and perspectives were welcomed to the fore and took their space, adding to the breadth and depth of experiences that this format is destined for.
We don’t use this specific kit, but we do love her nails. Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash
  • Innovative tech continued to throw us new options almost daily, and crucially, more and more non-techy people embraced technology as a necessary means of connecting with one another and managing their mental space. From the sudden boom in Zoom, to wider adoption or invention in high quality video and audio recording options such as Cleanfeed and the newly launched Camflare. Old services adapted and new services developed to enable remote comms to take place and be recorded in high quality. Personally I found myself going for the easiest option for non-techy guests, and although many a USB microphone was couriered this year, I bet you many more non-audio people have become used to using mobile phone voice recorders and understanding room dynamics as a consequence!
  1. Further increased spend in digital audio. We’re still on track for podcasting to become a billion dollar ad business in 2021. As long as more listeners continue to adopt the podcasting medium and see its benefits to their lives, there will be more opportunities for advertisers to speak to them.
  2. Increased self-publishing and in-house digital team adoption by businesses: Tools such as Anchor mean it is easier than ever for non-audio professionals to sneeze and publish a show. As a consequence, plenty of organisations will look for production companies who can add a little something more to their podcast plan. That leads me onto my next prediction!
  3. Production companies will begin to focus more upon strategy and integration on branded projects. Brands will still need podcast companies to support the co-creation of integrated marketing solutions with smart design to match. Taking an agency approach to developing marketing strategy and collaborating with businesses on their vision, the most supportive production companies will be able to provide a full-service solution — from audio production to video and animation for social assets and marketing materials. But then, Podcast Pioneers might be biased here :-)
  4. Smarter thinking within businesses. Whether organisations are becoming content publishers as a means to generating leads into their business, or whether they want to build a podcast into their engagement ecosystem in a different way, more companies understand that podcasting is part of a lead-generating or engagement funnel with very specific audiences and as a consequence will start to borrow and integrate strategies from other self-publishing mediums.
  5. We’ve seen some super partnerships between media houses, agencies and production houses in 2020. Global teamed up with dentsu’s The Story lab to announce its plans to commission six podcast titles with the goal of creating brand partnerships, programmatic advertising opportunities and further AV content. I predict 2021 will see further commercial partnerships between agencies and media houses to create original content that can go beyond audio. Podcasts generating television, social or other visual content? More of that I reckon. Fun!
  6. In 2020 we feasted on the battle between some of the biggest content creators and their hosting platforms as exclusivity deals were revealed and went awry. In 2021, it looks like further privitisation of podcasting might evolve, whether it’s in creating exclusive bonus content via patron-only RSS feeds to add value for existing customers, or in further examples of big shows becoming platform exclusive. (PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME INSTALL ANY MORE APPS ON MY PHONE!!)
Deletes all contacts to make room for new podcast app Photo by Rob Hampsonon Unsplash
How did this all go together?
Is it an alien or a binaural recording device? Photo by Brian McMahonon Unsplash




Podcasting specialist and producer. Also runs Podcast Pioneers.

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Katharine Kerr, Podcast Pioneers

Katharine Kerr, Podcast Pioneers

Podcasting specialist and producer. Also runs Podcast Pioneers.

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