Consumer revenue from subscriptions to digital audiobook services and single purchases is estimated to rise to $4.8bn in 2021, having surpassed $4bn in 2020, according to Omdia’s latest Digital Audiobooks Forecast.
The global audiobooks market has been growing significantly over the last few years and total revenue is expected to grow to $9.3bn by 2026 at a CAGR of 13.9%. The growth comes from the confluence of audiobooks services producing ever more compelling offerings, the ever-increasing range of listening options (from smartphones to desktops and smart speakers), and of course mandatory lockdowns turning consumers towards entertainment options feasible for use at home and on short trips for exercise.
Revenues & listeners by region:
Omdia’s Digital Audiobooks Forecast breaks out 20 individual countries, as well as sizing the rest of every major global region. Asia and Oceania is the largest region by revenue, accounting for over 45% of the global total in 2021. China is comfortably the largest single market for listeners, set to have 92m by end 2021.
The Americas is the second largest region by both revenue and monthly listeners, but at a country level the US is the global leader for revenue, closely followed by China. These positions are set to reverse by 2025. Europe will derive $820m from audiobook revenue in 2021 and is predicted to break the $1bn barrier by 2023.
By 2026 Omdia forecasts that there will be over 337m active monthly users, with Asia & Oceania continuing to dominate the market. The strength of this region comes down to a number of factors, including the popularity of Chinese services such as Ximalaya, while other major players at a global level include the likes of Amazon’s Audible service and Swedish company Storytel.
Dom Tait, Practice Leader of the Music & Audio team, commented: “As a $4bn global industry, digital audiobooks already has significant scale in and of itself, but it also points the way towards the future for audio. Podcasts represent a global market of more than 1bn monthly listeners, but the overwhelming consumer expectation is that podcasts should be free. With audiobooks, the expectation is very different, with regular payment – for either downloads or a subscription – a given.
“The ultimate, multibillion-dollar challenge for industry players is to transition podcast content to the premium feel of audiobooks, thus enabling a recurring consumer revenue stream alongside advertising.”