Hollywood stars have entered the podcasting space with aplomb during the pandemic, accounting for 22 — or 11% — of the top 200 new podcasts launched in 2020, according to a report by podcast app Stitcher on Wednesday.
While The Joe Rogan Experience, This American Life and The Daily remained the top three most-watched shows of 2020, new offerings from big names like Rob Lowe (Literally! With Rob Lowe); Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes (SmartLess); and Zach Braff and Donald Faison (Fake doctors, real friends with Zach and Donald) were among the top 200 new podcasts launched during the pandemic. office ladies, a podcast hosted by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey that launched in late 2019, ranked the 15th most listened to show for 2020, just below Serial.
SmartLess in particular, resonated the most with listeners between the ages of 35 and 54, based on data on which new shows users “favorite,” while The ladies of the office was most popular with listeners aged 13 to 17.
Celebrity-hosted shows came amid a 23% increase in new shows in 2020, compared to 2019, and a 7% increase in monthly viewing hours, according to Stitcher’s report, which is owned by satellite radio giant SiriusXM.
Hollywood’s podcast boom also shows no signs of stopping, as popular shows and talent strike massive deals with major media companies and podcast studios. Last month, Amazon acquired exclusive rights to Bateman, Arnett and Hayes SmartLess podcast in a deal worth more than $80 million. Spotify has also signed multi-year deals with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Obamas and Ava DuVernay, as well as a podcasting deal for a Kim Kardashian West criminal justice show.
Amy Fitzgibbons, Stitcher’s chief marketing officer, said the pandemic has only heightened podcasting’s status in entertainment as people “search for a sense of connection during times of isolation.”
“Podcasting is a powerful medium that has not only prevailed, but flourished,” Fitzgibbons said.