The year is only a few weeks away from wrapping up and while life continues to be in a flux of unpredictable changes, one thing remains the same: podcasts are a great way to escape the chaos. 

2021 is going down as another year of stellar podcast listening. According to Statista, there were about 120 million podcast listeners in the U.S. 

One reason podcasts have become a staple for many people this year may be because they offer so much to audiences. Riverside research has found that 74% of podcast listeners tune in to learn new things, while others listen regularly for entertainment, to keep up to date, to relax, and for inspiration.

With podcast adoption continuing to grow and more listeners continuing to tune in, both large advertisers and media conglomerates are actively looking at the industry with hungry eyes.

As of 2021, there are over two million podcasts and over 48 million podcast episodes according to Podcast Insights. Considering that in 2018 this figure was just over 500,000, it’s safe to say that the industry has seen some unprecedented growth.

With so many podcasts in circulation, there is absolutely a podcast that’s right for anyone. Probably over one too. For the 2021 round up, and with a myriad of different niches, here are the top ten podcasts that were listened to this year according to Eddison Research:

Coming in at #1 is The Joe Rogan Experience – the official podcast of comedian Joe Rogan. His opinions may be controversial, but Rogan’s episodes reach about 11 million people per episode. The show is a tremendous success for Spotify since Rogan signed an exclusive deal with the platform in 2020 that was reported to be worth $100 million.

Second on the list is The Daily, a podcast that covers the biggest stories in the world, told by the best journalists in the world. Hosted by Michael Barbaro the podcast runs for twenty minutes a day, five days a week, and is ready by 6 a.m.

For listeners who can’t get enough of true crime stories, Crime Junkie hits the list as #3. The weekly true crime podcast is hosted every Monday by Ashley Flowers, who shares with listeners about whatever crime she’s been obsessing over.

At #4 is This American Life, a weekly public radio show that is heard by 2.2 million people on more than 500 stations. Every week a different theme is chosen where host Ira Glass looks at the extraordinary side of everyday life. The show has a regular cast of personalities, including David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell and Mike Birbiglia.

For the person who likes to learn about everything, at #5 is Stuff You Should Know, a podcast whose description reads, “If you’ve ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further.” The show is going on 14 years and has over 1,400 episodes.

At #6, is My Favorite Murder, another true crime podcast, but this one has a comedic tone. Hosted by comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, each woman selects a single murder, true crime story, survivor story, or historical event to recount and discuss. The podcast is mainly dialogue between the hosts with one host telling the story and the other host reacting and providing commentary.

For the political junkie, tune into Pod Save America, which comes in at #7 on the list. The podcast is hosted by four former aides to President Obama—Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor— who are joined by journalists, politicians, activists, and more for authentic conversation about politics. 

At #8 on the list is a podcast that many fans of The Office will want to plug their earbuds in for. The Office Ladies is hosted by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, who both starred on the hit television series. Each week the two friends break down an episode of the show and give exclusive behind the scenes stories.

Serial, a podcast from Serial Productions, a The New York Times Company, makes the list at #9. The podcast, hosted by Sarah Koenig, unfolds one story – a true story – over the course of an entire season. The show follows the plot and characters wherever they lead, through many surprising twists and turns. The show is the first-ever podcast to win a Peabody award and creator Koenig made the Time’s 100 most influential people list.

Finally at #10, is The Ben Shapiro Show. This podcast may be the most insightful conservative podcast on the web. Hosted by Ben Shapiro Monday through Friday, the show features news and current events as well as though provoking interviews. 

The Edison Research Top 50 Podcasts of 2021 list is derived from data collected continuously from Q3 2020 – Q2 2021 and has surveyed weekly podcast consumers ages 18 and older in the U.S. 

“This is the second anniversary of the Podcast Consumer Tracker, and the top shows have been fairly consistent over that time. Because our research covers the entire space, regardless of publisher or listening application, we have been able to report that stability even as the space continues to evolve,” said Edison Research SVP Tom Webster.

Whether it’s true crime, politics, or comedy, there are many podcasts to help you escape your daily routine. These ten shows are a great place to build your library.

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradadgate/2021/02/11/podcasting-has-become-a-big-business/?sh=70efbf012cfb

https://www.statista.com/topics/3170/podcasting/#:~:text=Podcasting%20is%20an%20increasingly%20popular,around%2020%20million%20each%20year

https://riverside.fm/blog/podcast-statistics#:~:text=Why%20Do%20People%20Listen%20To,to%20relax%2C%20and%20for%20inspiration

https://www.oberlo.com/blog/podcast-statistics

https://www.edisonresearch.com/the-top-50-most-listened-to-podcasts-in-the-u-s-q2-2021/

https://www.newsweek.com/joe-rogan-dethroned-spotify-chart-new-gaming-podcast-sapnap-karl-jacobs-number-one-1634239

https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/g35726555/best-podcasts-of-2021/