New Research Unveils The Highest-Earning Podcasts

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In 2004 a pirate radio DJ working out of a loft apartment in Amsterdam decided to try something different. Rather than broadcasting during the usual timeslot, he pre-recorded an episode and made it available as a digital file on the web. The DJ’s name was Adam Curry, and his new idea became known as podcasting.

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Podcasting is now one of the fastest-growing forms of new media. In the USA over half of people aged 12 and over listen to podcasts every week. And 50% of those say they're more likely to buy a product after hearing about it on a podcast. As such, advertisers are scrambling for shout-outs on the worlds' most popular podcasts. And now ad revenue from podcasts is expected to smash through the $1billion barrier by the end of 2021.

That means there's some serious money on the table for the best content creators. So who's making the big bucks? What’s the best country to launch a successful podcast? And what topics or conversations attract the most listeners and paying advertisers? Top Dollar has the answers. Its researchers analyzed data from streaming platforms and AdvertiseCast to find the highest-earning podcasts in the world.

The Highest-Earning Podcasts

Today's undisputed podcast king is Joe Rogan. The stand-up comedian started podcasting back in 2009. In Rogan's own words, podcasting was a chance to sit around and "bullsh*t with other comedians."

By 2015 over 16million people were downloading the show every month. This caught the attention of streaming service Spotify, which was looking for a way to bite into Apple's share of the podcast market. So in May 2020 it offered Rogan a licensing agreement worth an estimated $100million! But that's small potatoes compared to what Spotify will make out of the deal. With an incredible 5million listeners per episode, the Joe Rogan Experience is set to generate $72,287,456 in annual ad revenue. That makes it the world's richest podcast.

There's a huge drop-off to second place. It's a $60million drop-off, to be exact. That's because the world's second-richest podcast, UK-based comedy show Sh*gged, Married, Annoyed, brings in a ‘measly’ $10million from its advertisers.

Journalist Gabor Steingart is the host of the world's third-richest podcast. Around 400,000 people log onto Steingart’s Morning Briefing for updates and interviews covering the latest political news. And advertisers pay Steingart $8million a year to reach all those ears and eyeballs.

The rest of the top 20 highest-earning podcasts are a mixture of current affairs shows, chat shows, comedy podcasts, and sports programs. However, none of them come close to the top 3 in terms of ad revenue. Instead, they make between $3millon to $500k a year from advertisers.

USA Tops Podcast Ranking

With Rogan leading the charge, it’s no surprise that the USA is the epicenter of this new medium. But Rogan isn't doing all the heavy lifting. The USA is home to the number one business podcast - The GaryVee Audio Experience - and the world's top sportscast - the ESPN-syndicated Dan Le Batard Show. According to Top Dollar calculations, these shows make $35million in combined ad sales.

US content creators also dominate the comedy-podcast genre. Almost every comic in LA and New York has their own podcast. But no comic anywhere generates the same numbers as Armchair Expert host Dax Shepherd. His comedy/confessional show celebrates the messiness of being human by interviewing celebrities and actors with a 'colorful' past, including Monica Lewinsky and Rob Lowe. The Armchair Expert reaches 2,484,881 pairs of ears every week, and advertisers pay $27,969,825 to get their messages into them.

Some podcasts help us learn, grow, or laugh. But others attempt to understand the darker side of our nature, and lots of listeners are keen to see what’s hiding under the surface. The Conspiracy Theory Pod is the highest-earning podcast in Norway. At the same time, Singapore and Indonesia's number one shows focus on real-life horror stories.

But when it comes to exploring human transgressions, most listeners go straight to the True Crime podcasts. True Crime is the subject matter for seven of the world's highest-earning podcasts. Over 3million 'muderinos' watch or listen to the weekly My Favorite Murder US podcast. Top Dollar thinks those viewing/listening figures translate to $27,080,566 in ad revenues; that's 10x more than the world's second most popular crime podcast, the Australian True Crime Show.

The podcasting revolution has already happened. And it's about to enter an exciting new phase. Podfather Adan Curry recently launched an open-source platform that aims to decentralize the podcasting ecosystem entirely. How will it affect content creators? What impact will it have on censorship? And which shrewd advertisers will be the first to take advantage of this new opportunity? Who knows? But whatever happens, there are some exciting times ahead.

highest-earning podcasts

highest-earning podcasts

highest-earning podcasts

highest-earning podcasts