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The U.S. podcast market has been on the rise for years, but 2019 marked an extraordinary year of growth for the space. 

At least 90 million U.S. consumers (27% of the population) listen to podcasts monthly, up 23% from 73 million in 2018, which is an acceleration from the 9% year-over-year growth monthly podcast listening experienced last year, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital

A number of key drivers caused this remarkable growth, though the explosion in available shows coming from media companies and high-profile celebs likely had something to do with it.  

40% of monthly U.S. podcast listeners were aged 12-24 in 2019, while just 17% were 55 or older, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital. Meanwhile, 49% of weekly podcast listeners said they would go out of their way to support brands that advertise on their favorite podcasts, per a July 2018 study by Westwood One.

These valuable podcast listeners help explain why so much money was thrown around in the podcast market this past year. Spotify this year spent nearly $400 million on podcast-related acquisitions in aim of onboarding listeners, while there were 27 VC-podcast company deals (about threefold the number of similar deals made a decade ago) as of August 2019, according to Pitchbook.

For now, Apple is the dominant podcast listening platform, accounting for 63% of podcast listening in February 2019, according to Libsyn and App Annie. However, this share is likely to slip in 2020 as the Spotifys of the world more aggressively invest in bringing on podcast listeners. 

This is one of a series, 19 Trends That Defined the Media Business in 2019.