Few things are as engaging as a truly captivating story. When your narrative hits a nerve with the listener, it creates an almost magical feeling of fellowship between the narrator and the audience. You only have to ask the people who, week after week, listen to Elin and Jossan’s personal stories in Sweet But Psycho, the Kompaniet gang’s latest escapades, Amie and Fanna’s rants or even when Parisa Amiri brings us stories of some of the world’s most infamous despots in Diktatorer.
Johan Seidefors, Nordic Head of content at Spotify
The Swedish Podcast Report 2021 is based on data and insights from Spotify and survey data from Kantar Sifo. Happy reading (and listening)!
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Podcast listening is growing in Sweden compared to a year ago – both in terms of the number of listeners and how many podcasts there are to choose from. The biggest listeners are young people and those living in one of the country’s larger cities, but during a year when we’ve all had to adapt our lives to a ‘new normal’, more and more people have become interested in podcasts.
51 percent of people aged between 18-79 listen to podcasts regularly.*
Young listeners continue to dominate
2 out of 3 Swedes aged between 18-29 listen to podcasts every week.
Podcast listening is continuing to increase
The group that listens to podcasts at least once a week has increased by 12 percent compared to the previous year.
Listening is increasing in all age groups
The increase is taking place in all age groups and amongst both men and women. Sifo sees the biggest increase in the 30-44 age group, where the percentage listening to podcasts at least once a week has increased by 19 percent.
*Regularly means listening to podcasts at least once a month.
increase in those who listen to podcasts at least once a week.
is the age group that has increased the most according to the Sifo survey.
People listening to podcasts on Spotify
On Spotify, we see the same continued strong development in listening. More Swedes than ever are listening to podcasts regularly, and podcast listening on Spotify is increasing in all age groups. One exceptional increase has taken place amongst the oldest listeners, with those over 55 increasing their listening on Spotify by 86 percent when we compare listening in 2020 with 2019.
Almost 1 in 2 listen to podcasts on Spotify
When asked about which app(s) Swedes most often use to listen to podcasts, almost 1 in 2 state that they use the Spotify app.
Taking the time to listen
When people listen to podcasts, the majority take the time to fully do so. Young women aged between 18-29 spend most time on listening, and those spending the least time are older men aged between 65-79. 80 percent and 33 percent of these two groups respectively state that when they listen to podcasts, they do so for half an hour or more.
of all those who listen to podcasts once a week, listen for half an hour or more.
Older people sit still and young people do other things
Just as in 2020, people most commonly listen to podcasts on their way to or from work. But the percentage reduced from 56 percent to 47 percent in this year’s survey compared to last year’s, which is probably the effect of reduced commuting. What has increased, however, is listening to podcasts while working out (43% compared to 35%). Among older people, the majority of listening is still done in bed, while younger listeners generally do something else at the same time.
When Swedes are able to choose, podcasts in the society and culture area are still most popular. Laughter is also a priority, and the comedy genre comes in second place, followed by genres that reflect and comment on the contemporary world in various ways.
Most popular podcast genres on Spotify in 2020:
Society and culture
News and politics
Lifestyle and health
Naturally, the pandemic has also affected podcasting in Sweden, and our listening patterns too. It is primarily older groups that state they listened more to podcasts as a result of the pandemic, and in terms of content and genres, it appears that the desire for more light-hearted entertainment has increased. At the same time, there has been a significant increase in listening to health-related podcasts, which indicates that many people are trying to monitor their health in this new normal.
A selection of podcasting genres that increased most on Spotify at the start of the pandemic (March/April 2020 compared to Jan-Feb 2021).
True Crime +31%
Swedes state that they listen more to podcasts today than before the pandemic.
listeners state that they listen much more than before the pandemic.
of podcast listeners aged between 65-79 state that they listen more to podcasts now than before the pandemic.
increase of listeners in the Lifestyle and health category in Sweden between April 2020 and February 2021.
The spoken word is hotter than ever. Never before has it been so easy to get your voice out there and be heard by other people. Thousands of podcast episodes are published every week on Spotify – all full of opinions, feelings, stories, challenges, provocation, facts, humor and sincerity. Podcasting has quite obviously grown up – but it’s far from adult.
Karin Bäckmark, Nordic Podcast Lead at Spotify.
The content selection is getting broader, and more creators are emerging
The number of podcasts in Swedish has increased by a dizzying 89 percent between March 2020 and March 2021. As the range of podcasts increases, the content also becomes broader – as do the voices and perspectives being heard. If we look at the list of the most listened-to podcasts both in Sweden and globally, we can see that podcasts relating to society and culture are still popular, and also that a wide range of different subjects characterizes today’s podcasting landscape.
At the top of the list we find everything from true crime and discussion podcasts to infotainment podcasts. We even see breadth when it comes to the people behind the podcasts, from experienced journalists to former docusoap participants.
“If you’ve done everything right, it’s an incredibly powerful narrative form”
One of the obvious advantages of working with podcasting as a medium is that you encounter significantly fewer obstacles than with other media.
“My voice has always been my tool”
Football player and artist behind his autobiography Äkta Hela Vägen (Authentic All The Way), which has been published as both a podcast and a book. "To be honest, I rarely read because of my dyslexia."
“We want to help people by talking about our own life experiences”
One reason why so many people listen to our podcast is probably because we’ve always talked about taboo subjects that people don’t normally talk openly about.
Discussion and documentaries are the most popular formats
When it comes to formats, the discussion and documentary narratives are in a class of their own when Swedes have a choice, and a majority say they prefer these formats.
of podcast listeners like discussions as a podcast format.
of the listeners like documentary narrative as a podcast format.
If we look at the genres that increased most in 2020, fiction is right at the top – a genre that grew by a full 338 percent between 2019 and 2020.
Genres that grew most on Spotify in Sweden between 2019 and 2020, in terms of listening:
Religion and spirituality
Children and family
Health and fitness
As podcasting as a medium is becoming more established and the quality of podcasts – in terms of both production and content – is improving constantly, podcasts are today seen as a reliable source of knowledge and information.
The main reason for listening to a podcast is to be entertained, with more than 1 in 2 respondents (52%) giving this reason. However, almost as many (47%) say they listen to podcasts to gain greater knowledge and almost 1 in 4 (23%) to keep themselves up-to-date.
think that listening to podcasts increases their knowledge of society to quite a large or very large extent.
have high levels of confidence that podcast content is truthful and accurate.
Podcasts affect opinions and create dialogue
The intimate nature of the podcasting medium creates proximity between the podcaster and listener, which contributes to podcast content often forming the basis for dialogue and discussions.
of those who listen to podcasts every week discuss the content with other people a lot or quite a lot.
state that their opinions are affected by podcasts to a very or quite high degree.
Swedes simply can’t get enough of documentaries. And who doesn’t love a captivating, well-told account of a fascinating event? Podcasts covering society and culture top Spotify’s listening figures.
Karin Bäckmark, Nordic Podcast Lead at Spotify.
The listeners’ broad wish list: society, culture and niche subjects
As the range of podcasts increases and the content becomes broader, the listeners’ image of what a podcast can be is also changing. And this change is constant, with the idea of what a podcast is expanding all the time. The question of what Swedish listeners want to hear more of produced a wealth of different subjects and types of podcasts.
Listeners say they want to hear more of subjects relating to society and culture, such as history, crime and both international and domestic politics.
“Hey presto, you find yourself at the heart of a naval battle”
Svenska Folkets Historia truly is a podcast for everyone. History is exciting, and people of all ages are fascinated by how our ancestors lived and the events that formed our time.
want to hear more of niche topics in podcasts.
want to hear more autobiographies in podcast format.
About his autobiography Äkta Hela Vägen as both a podcast and a book.
“The book and the podcast are like brother and sister – they’re the same story but they go into detail in completely different ways. I know that, just like me, many people find it difficult to sit still and read page after page, so the podcast has been a way for me to tell my story to them”
would consider starting a podcast.
of the male respondents may consider starting a podcast.
of the female respondents may consider starting a podcast.
1 in 3 people could imagine starting a podcast
Respondents show significant interest in starting their own podcast, with as many as 1 in 3 (29%) saying they could imagine doing it. We see the largest interest in starting a podcast amongst men, with 1 in 3 (32%) male respondents saying they could imagine starting a podcast, compared to 1 in 4 (24%) female respondents.
“There's an increased need for diversity as the number of listeners grow”
Interest in podcasts is increasing week on week, and if you look at who’s starting their own podcast it’s primarily men.
The younger audiences are still the most frequent and loyal podcast listeners. But podcast listening is increasing in all age groups. Increasing numbers of older people are discovering the advantages of podcasts, and this development might have been accelerated by the pandemic. In this section we look more closely at what unites and differentiates younger (18-44) and older (45-79) podcast listeners.
from the 18-44 age group listen to podcasts at least once a week or more, compared to 1 in 5 in the 45-79 age group.
of older people state that they never listen to podcasts compared to only 19% of younger people.
of the older and almost 1 in 5 of the younger group think they will listen more to podcasts in the next two years.
Older people – not as starved of company as we might think
Gaining greater knowledge and being entertained are the most common reasons for listening to podcasts in all age groups. But younger people demonstrate a greater need for podcasts as company and as something to make everyday tasks a little more enjoyable, while older people see podcasts as an opportunity to keep themselves more up-to-date.
Everyone talks about podcasts, but for young people they are a more natural topic of conversation
Women discuss podcasts more than men. Among women, 44 percent discuss the content of a podcast very or quite often. We also see that the 18-44 age group are more likely to discuss podcast content than other age groups.
people who listen to podcasts in the 18-44 age group discuss podcasts with other people.
people who listen to podcasts in the 45-79 age group discuss podcasts with other people.
Older people want shorter podcasts
All age groups want more information about society and more niche subjects in podcasts in the future. But one thing that stands out is the desire amongst the older listener group for shorter formats.
A podcast of 5-10 minutes would suit 14 percent of the older age group while only 9 percent of the younger age group feel the same.
The oldest and youngest are most critical
20 percent of listeners are critical of the truthfulness of podcasts, but two groups stand out as more skeptical – the very oldest (65-79 years) and the youngest (18-29 years).
1 in 3 of the 65-79 age group say they have no or very little confidence that the content is truthful and correct. While 1 in 5 of the 18-29 age group say the same thing. Older men are the most critical.
of the older listeners prefer podcasts that are 5-10 minutes long, only 9% of the younger listeners state the same.
of all podcast listeners are critical of the truthfulness of podcasts.
in the age group 65-79 state that they do not at all or trust a little that pod content is truthful and correct, 1 in 5 between 18-29 state the same.
The listener’s life stage affects what they want to hear more of in the future, but regardless of whether they are younger or older they can’t get enough of history, social and cultural topics and true crime. Listeners between 18-44 are more attracted to podcasts relating to sex and relationships, children and parenthood, while older people are more interested in podcasts about music.
Want to listen to...
As podcasting as a medium grows, the interest for advertising in podcasts also increases. Historically, advertisers have purchased advertising time for a fixed fee in individual podcast episodes, without the possibility of analyzing whether their message got through.
Caroline Måhl, Head of Ad Sales for the Nordic region at Spotify
state that they have reduced their old media habits in favor of podcasts.
1 in 5 podcast listeners say they have reduced their use of other channels in favor of podcast listening
An explosion of audio content is under way which has led, for example, to 1 in 5 Swedes admitting they have reduced their former media consumption in favor of podcasts.
Radio and TV have seen the biggest impact from Swedes’ increased podcast consumption. Half of those who state they have reduced their consumption of other media in order to listen more to podcasts have done so within radio and TV.
Podcasts generate the highest brand efficiency
A growing audience also means the development of audio advertising has progressed in the form of new, exciting formats but also new tools that give advertisers better insights into how their adverts are being listened to, and makes possible more relevant and transparent advertising. In global terms, digital audio channels including podcasts are now the channels generating the highest brand efficiency in both the short and long term, together with a higher return on each invested krona compared to other media.
There is great interest in starting a podcast – just like last year 1 in 3 respondents can imagine doing so. We are still seeing the greatest interest in starting a podcast amongst men in the 18-29 age group.
Surveys have been conducted by Kantar Sifo on behalf of Spotify. Kantar Sifo's survey was conducted in Kantar Sifo's online panel. It consists of a representative sample of the Swedish public between the ages of 18 and 79. A background question on podcasting has been asked to 3,345 people. 1,000 interviews have since been conducted in the group that listens to podcasts at least once a week. The interviews were conducted from 17 to 23 February 2021.
The survey has also been supplemented with data from Spotify and the report from Omnicom from September 2020 based on WARC data.