The podcast industry is hot right now. With one-third of Americans listening monthly, podcast ad revenue is expected to cross $500 million this year and predicted to hit $1 billion by 2021. Most measurements of the size of the podcast industry only take into account ad spend, but podcasts are earning an increasingly significant share of their revenue from non-advertising related sources. These encompass everything from t-shirt sales to listener-supported or paywall content (which we help support at Glow), and of course— live shows.
We follow all aspects of growth in the space and were intrigued after Axios released a report earlier this summer that podcast live events had grown over 2000 percent in the past six years, based on data from the ticketing platform Vivid Seats. We analyzed data from Vivid Seats and found that the podcasting live shows industry will be worth over $55m this year. To put this in perspective, that is more than 10% the size of the podcast advertising market last year ($479.1 million in 2018). Here’s what else we found:
- The top 10 events account for nearly half of the total market, coming in at $26,387,318
- The average ticket price is $63. Event sizes range anywhere from 200 to 6,000 people.
- Google searches for podcast live events spiked this year (peaked in May, up 244% from Dec. 2018)
- Events are most popular in California, Minnesota, and Oregon.
Let’s dive deeper into each of these findings.
*Note that this research is based off of numbers from late summer, so final counts may have shifted slightly since our final analysis and release of this finding.
Podcast lives shows will bring in over $55m this year
We reached $55 million by analyzing ticket sales for podcast live events on Vivid Seats. We broke events down into two main categories: top-grossing tours and everything else. For the top-grossing live tours, we summed the revenue for each podcast’s tour to reach $26.4 million. We then broke the remaining shows into subcategories by analyzing average audience size and ticket cost. From that data, we were able to determine that the remaining events collectively bring in $23.4 million. The Vivid Seats data we analyzed took into account 460 shows, but some podcasts do their ticketing independently. So, to supplement our research, we turned to data from podcasts such as Moth Radio Hour, that host hundreds of live events every year.
Surely our process was not perfect— in fact, we intentionally built this estimate to be conservative. In analyzing this data, we looked strictly at ticket sales. These ticket sales only account for events that have already happened or been announced this. With a few months left in 2019, chances are that many more events will spring up before the year comes to an end.
The potential of live events is much greater than just ticket sales: there is extra revenue to be earned from VIP experiences, pre-show meet and greets, event sponsorships, merchandise sales etc. We also weren’t able to include revenue earned from gigs performed at large fairs and music festivals (where total attendees can surpass 100k) or other such events.
One point to consider that puts this statistic in perspective: in 2015, podcast ad revenue was a similar size ($69 million). Today, that number is closer to $500m and expected to hit $1 billion by 2021. We obviously don’t expect the growth of these two industries to grow the same way, but if the trendline in advertising is indicative of other trends in the industry, we can continue to see significant growth in live shows.
Google search trends for podcasts are up, and they’re largely concentrated on the coasts—with some notable exceptions
We wanted to better understand where this demand was coming from, so we analyzed Google search trends for podcast live events. Interest has been growing steadily for several years but spiked dramatically in just the past 8 months. Searches hit an all-time high in May, up 244% from December 2018.
We also looked into where these searches were coming from.
Although podcasts are popular across the country, demand for live events seems to be much stronger in certain states than others. The West Coast, for example, takes three of the top five spots for states searching for live podcast events.
We can break these searches down even further, to see exactly where demand is most concentrated.
When we break searches down by city, the results appear as one might expect. The top five cities where search rates are highest include (in order): Portland, Los Angeles, Austin, San Francisco, and New York.
However, when we look at searches by metropolitan area, live events seem to be more evenly spread out across the country. The top five metropolitan areas (in order) are Austin, Texas; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Los Angeles, California; Detroit, Michigan; and San Diego, California.