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Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment Announces First Comprehensive Study of NYC's Booming Podcast Industry

Report establishes New York City as the epicenter of the podcasting industry with explosive growth in podcasts and 33 percent job growth

The number of podcasts made by NYC-based networks is up nearly 75 percent from two years ago, driving 1.3 billion downloads last year

August 14, 2017 — New York City's Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin today announced the release of the first-ever comprehensive study of New York City's podcasting industry. Titled "New York City, The Podcasting Capital," the report firmly establishes New York as the epicenter of the burgeoning industry, with more podcasts making New York City their home than any other city. It details recent dramatic gains in the number of podcasts, jobs, listenership, advertising sales, and leased office space. A deep talent pool, and the density of advertising companies, technology firms, and digital media organizations have all helped solidify New York's primacy in the nascent industry.

Based on interviews with dozens of industry players and a months-long survey of relevant market data, the report's findings include:

  • New York City podcasters provide much of the content for global listeners of audio news and entertainment on demand. The top four NYC-based networks produce almost 200 podcasts – up nearly 75 percent from 2015.
  • Programs produced by the five top New York City-based networks – WNYC Studios, Gimlet, Slate, Panoply, and Midroll Media – resulted in over 1.3 billion downloads in 2016 – up from an annual average of 199 million downloads between 2013 and 2015.
  • Employment at the city's top podcast networks has increased 33 percent, from about 450 people in 2015 to about 600 people in early 2017 – a number that could double by the end of the year. Podcast job growth far outpaces employment increases in the advertising, television, and radio industries.
  • This exponential growth in NYC-produced podcasts has lured over 200 active advertisers, who have found podcast listeners uniquely attentive.
  • Podcast advertising grew 48 percent between 2015 and 2016. 2016 podcast ad revenue was about $167 million, according to research firm Bridge Ratings. The total podcast ad spend could near $250 million in 2017 and $395 million by 2020, it is estimated.
  • NYC podcast networks have expanded their office space from about 100,000 square feet in 2014-2015 to almost 140,000 square feet today. If podcast studios built at media companies such as BuzzFeed, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal are included, the square footage doubles that amount.
Podcast report

"New York City is at the forefront of the dynamic and rapidly expanding podcasting industry," said Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. "This comprehensive and insightful report on the dramatic rise of this fascinating medium shows once again that when it comes to creativity, talent, and synergies between related industries, New York is second to none. We are thrilled that this growing sector offers another potential employment opportunity for creative New Yorkers and look forward to offering workshops to teach people some of the skills they need to work in the industry."

"It's an exciting time to be producing podcasts in New York, the podcasting capital!," said Laura Walker, President and CEO of New York Public Radio, which includes WNYC Studios. "New York is the center of innovation, experimentation and creativity, and I am proud that WNYC Studios and our many colleagues at Slate, Gimlet, This American Life and other producers are leading the podcast revolution by bringing the extraordinary energy and diversity of the city to the world. I'm delighted that Julie Menin and the City have undertaken this report, a great acknowledgment of both the creative output of the growing podcasting industry, and the advertising, business development and employment contributions we bring to the city as well."

Starting in the Fall, 2017, the Made in NY Media Center by IFP with support from MOME, will begin enrolling students in a podcast certification program for the city's diverse storytellers of the future. The industry-driven, multi-week curriculum will include coursework that provides a comprehensive overview and hands-on experience of all elements of podcast-making, including development, production, post-production, distribution and monetization.

The MOME report offers a brief history of the podcasting world, which has roots in public radio, and has recently experienced a significant increase in listenership and cultural prominence. This is partially attributable to the addition of the podcast app to Apple's iOS 6 in 2012. Listenership has been growing ever since, to about 67 million monthly listeners, mostly between the ages of 18 and 54.

New York's storied history as a haven for artists of all kinds drives the success of many of its creative industries and podcasting is no exception. The podcasting community in the city is close-knit, collaborative, and competitive, spurring innovation and cutting-edge programming. It includes both startups and divisions of major publications, such as The New York Times, the New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal.

The report also delves deeply into the economics of podcasting, which is free to listeners and therefore depends on advertising for financial support. Research shows that podcast advertisements are uniquely effective, with 65 percent of listeners remembering ads in podcasts they've heard, a retention rate that advertisers are increasingly noticing.

"NYC is the global epicenter of podcasts, by a mile," said Matt Lieber, cofounder and president, Gimlet Media. "Nowhere else do you have the same density of talented creative, technical, and business minds working together to create a new and exciting form of media. This report illustrates why."

"Working in podcasting in New York right now feels like working in Hollywood in the early 20th century," said Andy Bowers, Chief Content Officer of Panoply Media. "Everywhere you look there's another visionary helping to invent and shape a new medium."

"We're thrilled to see such support for our industry from the mayor's office," said Erik Diehn, CEO, Midroll Media. "New York City is home not only to some of the most talented producers and creators in podcasting, but also the home to many of our listeners. We love being here, making shows for those listeners and helping grow the city's burgeoning podcasting community."

The MOME study found that challenges remain. Social media does not currently support an audio-only platform, making it hard for users to share podcasts. There is also a need for increasing diversity in the podcasting industry, which, like mainstream media at large, is still largely white and male. But New York's podcast networks are already giving greater voice to women and people of color, as evidenced by BuzzFeed's See Something Say Something, Slate's Represent, and WNYC Studios' 2 Dope Queens.

"This report does an incredibly important service for the emerging podcast industry," said Nick Quah, Editor of industry newsletter Hot Pod. "With this, we finally have hard data that helps us get a sense of just how much this young industry has contributed to job creation. It underlines the fact that this space isn't just a curious artifact of the Internet — it's a budding economic force, and New York as a city certainly plays a huge part in that."

"As the saying goes, if you can make a podcast here, you can make a podcast anywhere," said Eleanor Kagan, director of audio for BuzzFeed News. "New York City has never been a better place to produce original audio content--be it podcasts, live taping events, or broadcast radio. I applaud Commissioner Menin for taking a close look at how the city can continue to provide support for podcasters across the five boroughs. And congrats on a fascinating report!"

"New York City's podcast production has been rapidly growing and I'm glad to see the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment taking stock of the industry's production, advertising, and listenership," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "NYC-produced podcasts employ hundreds while entertaining and educating millions. It's good to see this report's details on the extensive growth of this developing industry that is centered right here in New York."

"With every download is a piece of New York," said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. "It should surprise no one that, when it comes to creativity, content and talent, New York City is second to none. The exponential growth of our city in the booming podcast industry means growth that is already outpacing employment in the advertising, television and radio industries. MOME deserves to be commended for commissioning this comprehensive study that provides an important snapshot of New York City's lion's share within a burgeoning industry."

"New York City is home to more creative talent than anywhere in the world and the podcasting industry's rapid growth is no surprise," said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the New York City Council Committee on Technology. "It's great to see the industry's significant economic benefits detailed in a report and I'm eager to see how MOME and NYC EDC initiatives help podcasting continue to expand in the years to come."