Most popular podcasts in the UK 2020

We found out how popular podcast listening is in the UK, how much is spent on advertising and what the most popular podcasts are.

Podcasts have been growing in popularity over the years, with 15,610,000 people in the UK tuning in to their favourite host. With the growing demand for podcasts, there has never been a better time to delve into the wide array of topics that they cover. From weekly news broadcasts to gaming or learning about a person you’ve never heard of before, there’ll be a podcast to suit you.

If you want to start listening, either download a few episodes before you leave the house, or make sure to get a good mobile plan to cover your use of data.

Quick overview

  • 24% of Brits, or 15,610,000 people, listen to podcasts on a regular basis.
  • 1 in 20 adults consume their news via podcasts.
  • Based on a sample of 10 million episodes, the mean length of a podcast episode is 38 minutes and 42 seconds.
  • Podcasts about video games are the longest, with an average of just under 70 minutes per episode, and language course podcasts are the shortest, at 18 minutes on average per episode.
  • £26,990,000 was spent on podcast advertising in 2019, and this is expected to rise to £33,560,000 in 2020.

Listeners

As we can see from the graph below, the amount of people listening to podcasts is constantly on the rise, with the number nearly doubling to over 15 million in 2020 compared to 8.9 million in 2017. In just three years, podcast listeners have increased by 6 million, leading to more and more people not only listening to podcasts but also starting their own. However, only 24% of Brits regularly listen to podcasts, with 75% choosing not to listen to them at all.

Year Podcast listeners in the UK
2024* 19,390,000
2023* 18,620,000
2022* 17,780,000
2021* 16,760,000
2020* 15,610,000
2019 13,260,000
2018 11,490,000
2017 8,990,000

Where people get their podcasts from tends to differ slightly. A third of those who listen to podcasts (32%) find their podcasts by word of mouth, while another third (32%) research online to find out what’s good. Another 29% trust their friends’ recommendations.

What we do while listening to podcasts

Since most podcasts are just audio, you can often perform other tasks at the same time. Taking the top spot is driving, with 38% of respondents choosing this as the thing they do most often while listening to a podcast. At the bottom of the list are washing/dressing (8%) and other Internet use (7%).

What people do while listening to podcasts Percentage
Driving/travelling 38%
Relaxing/doing nothing 36%
Working/studying 25%
Household chores 21%
Eating/drinking/cooking 18%
Sports/exercise/hobbies 11%
Washing/dressing 8%
Other Internet use 7%

Age of listeners

Podcast listeners truly encompass all ages, which may be due to the fact that they’re easily available and there are so many different topics to choose from. 38% of those aged 26-35 have been listening to a podcast during the last year, close to a third (31%) of those aged 15-25 have been listening to a podcast during the past 12 months, while only 12% of those aged over 56 have done so.

Age Percentage that listen
15-25 31%
26-35 38%
36-45 27%
46-55 21%
56 or older 12%

How much do advertisers spend on podcasts?

With such a surge in demand, it was clear that it wouldn’t take long for podcasts to be monetised. And with more growth being forecasted for the future, podcasts were seen as an untapped goldmine for advertising companies, which are now putting ads directly into podcasts.

From the chart below we can see that ad expenditure for podcasts has tripled since 2017, and is now estimated to hit £33,560,000 in 2020.

Year Total advertising expenditure for podcasts Average spend per listener
2017 £10,440,000.00 £1.16
2018 £18,390,000.00 £1.60
2019 £26,990,000.00 £2.04
2020* £33,560,000.00 £2.31
2021* £44,170,000.00 £2.83
2022* £54,350,000.00 £3.29
2023* £64,300,000.00 £3.71
2024* £74,660,000.00 £4.14

Does anyone care about the ads in podcasts?

It’s very effective to put an ad in a podcast. Podcast ads are usually relevant to the specific audience of the podcast, and because people mostly listen to podcasts that are recommended by friends or that they’ve discovered by word of mouth, they are more likely to trust the ads in the podcast and buy the product or service being advertised.

9% of listeners have purchased a product that was advertised by a sponsor in a podcast and 17% have bought a product that the podcasters talked about. This just shows the power of advertising in this growing industry.

Have you researched... The sponsors? The advertisements? The products discussed on the show?
Yes, more than once 12% 14% 17%
Yes, once 19% 20% 22%
No, but I would 30% 29% 29%
No, and I wouldn't 39% 38% 32%

Most profitable and popular podcasts in the UK

Is it possible to make money from a podcast? Yes. This is how much the most profitable podcasts in the world made in revenue in 2019, and the podcasts that are the most popular in the UK in 2020.

Podcast Revenue
The Joe Rogan Experience – Joe Rogan £22,610,000
My Favorite Murder – Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark £11,300,000
The Dave Ramsey Show – Dave Ramsey £7,540,000
Armchair Expert – Dax Shepherd £6,780,000
The Bill Simmons Podcast – Bill Simmons £5,270,000
Rank Podcast
1 Sh**ged Married Annoyed
2 Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster
3 The Receipts Podcast
4 JaackMaate’s Happy Hour
5 Call Her Daddy
6 My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
7 That Peter Crouch Podcast
8 No Such Thing As A Fish
9 Last Podcast On The Left
10 The Girls Bathroom
11 tinpotradio.org: XFM The Ricky Gervais Show
12 The Misfits Podcast
13 Fake Doctors, Real Friends with Zach and Donald
14 VIEWS with David Dobrik and Jason Nash
15 My Dad Wrote A Porno
16 3ShotsOfTequila
17 What's Good with Miniminter and Randolph
18 Today in Focus
19 Crime Junkie

Data accurate as of 21/09/2020

For all media enquiries, please contact

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806
matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

Sources

  • 4DC
  • IPSOS
  • AudienceProject
  • Statista
  • Forbes
  • Pacific Content

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