Average Podcast Downloads: Podcast Measurement and Growth

Average Podcast Downloads: At-a-Glance

Podcasting is long-form content. Don’t compare podcast download numbers with YouTube plays or social media “likes”, or follower counts.

Potential audience sizes are totally dependent on show topics. There’s no single podcast download numbers gauge here.

However, statistically, if you get over 30 downloads for a new episode in the first week of its release, you’re in the top 50% of all podcasters.

Read on to find out more…

Download numbers are one of the most obvious metrics for measuring the success of your podcast.

Download stats are immediately accessible to you from the minute you launch your first episode. Watching the numbers climb can be rewarding. Some might even say addictive.

But after the initial novelty has worn off, it’s natural for podcasters to begin asking the question, “Are my average podcast downloads good?”.

So, are your podcast download numbers “good”? Let’s take a look.

Editor’s Note

Our ‘Average Podcast Downloads’ guide was originally written in 2018. We update this post periodically to reflect changes in the data, and because we’re always learning new things!

How Many Podcast Downloads Should I Be Getting?

In a world of YouTube views and Twitter followers, we’ve become accustomed to figures in the hundreds of thousands, and even millions.

It’s important to realise, though, these numbers are completely irrelevant to podcasting. The time and effort it takes for someone to click ‘Follow’ on Twitter or watch a few seconds of a Youtube video, should never be compared to listening to podcast episodes.

Podcast listening is a commitment and an investment. It’s long-form content that isn’t immediately accessible via shiny sidebars and viral social media clickbait.

So comparing your average podcast downloads to someone else’s Instagram followers is like comparing the number of rooms in your house to the number of trees in the Amazon. It’s completely irrelevant and utterly pointless.

Does it (as usual) Depend on Your Content?

Of course it does.

Could a show about breeding Russian white dwarf hamsters realistically expect to see the same average podcast downloads as a show about Game of Thrones? Absolutely not.

Does this mean that the podcast with more downloads is the more successful one? Again, absolutely not.

If you run a podcast about a topic that was only interesting to literally 10 people in the world, and you were getting 7 downloads an episode, statistically, you’d be running the most popular show in history.

It’s the size of your potential audience that’s the big factor. Here are a couple of things to consider.

Firstly, how many folks out there are interested enough in your topic to actually want to consume content about it?

Secondly, how many of those people are current podcast listeners?

Thinking along these lines will help bring you closer to seeing what those cold hard download stats tell you. They can help you set realistic goals that don’t involve drawing comparisons with viral videos and celebrity social media accounts.

Audience Quality & Engagement

An audience might seem “small” in a numerical sense. But with long-form content like podcasting, it’s often shows with smaller but more niche hyper-targeted shows that are considered the more successful.

I’ve given this example before. If you ran a podcast about the technology needed to fly people to Mars, and your only listener was Elon Musk, would you consider this a successful show?

Granted, it’s a far-fetched example. But it’s always more about exactly who is listening, than how many of them there are.

And, it’s about the engagement. This isn’t something that can be achieved overnight. But, if you’re creating good content, over time, you’ll begin to hear from your listeners.

This could be because you’ve asked them a question or recommended they check something out. It could be purely because you’ve talked about a subject that resonated with them so much, that they felt compelled to reach out.

Measuring engagement requires a little more digging than simply staring at your download stats dashboard. But often, they can tell you a lot more about the impact your show is having.

If your podcast host provides this data, take a look at the geography of your podcast downloads. Are you suddenly getting a burst of downloads in a particular region or country? If so, you might want to check the news and find out what’s happening there. It’s all about measuring podcast engagement.

I Still Want a Gauge on Average Podcast Downloads per Episode

Buzzsprout are one of the biggest podcast hosting platforms in the world. In fact, with well over 126,000 active shows on their platform, they are arguably the biggest.

Hosting this many podcasts means Buzzsprout has plenty of useful data to analyse. This gives them an accurate picture of podcast downloads on an industry-wide level. The good news is that Buzzsprout makes their global data available to everyone on their Platform Stats page.

Here’s one of the key sections that’ll interest any podcaster.

If your new episode gets, within seven days of its release:

more than 32 downloads, you’re in the top 50% of podcasts.

more than 112 downloads, you’re in the top 25% of podcasts.

more than 443 downloads, you’re in the top 10% of podcasts.

more than 1,083 downloads, you’re in the top 5% of podcasts.

more than 5,097 downloads, you’re in the top 1% of podcasts.

[Updated April, 2023]

And here are some other interesting stats from this page, at the time of writing.

Podcast Downloads on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, & Google Podcasts

37.3% of listening takes place on Apple Podcasts, with 29% on Spotify. Google Podcasts are a distant third at 2.5%.

Podcast Download Locations

49.2% of downloads come from the USA, with 6.1% from the UK, and 4.4% from Canada.

Podcast Download Devices

Mobile accounts for 88.4% of all podcast downloads, with 69% of those coming via the Apple iPhone.

Want More Podcast Statistics?

If you’re a fan of podcast stats, then be sure to check out our podcast industry trends post. We regularly update this article with all the latest data to help you keep your finger on the pulse. You’ll find everything, from podcast listenership stats (like the most popular podcast genre), to the latest Edison research.

What About Monthly Podcast Listeners & Downloads?

You might hear some creators saying, “Oh, I get 10,000 downloads a month”, but that doesn’t really tell you anything about their average podcast download numbers. Instead, it suggests that they’ve published a lot of episodes to date.

For example, we run a daily show called Pocket-Sized Podcasting which has a lot of published episodes. Subscribers get one quick ‘how-to podcast’ tip each day, from Monday through to Friday. When new listeners find the show, they tend to binge through the back catalogue. This means our total monthly downloads can get pretty high, even if the new episode downloads are in the “modest” range.

Podcasting Numbers: Downloads & Listens FAQ

We’re asked a lot of questions about podcast download numbers, both in our Podcraft Community and Podcraft Academy live Q&A sessions. Here are a few of the most frequent.

Do I Need to Share My Download Numbers With Anyone?

Nope, not at all. Though you might be asked for them if you’re talking to potential sponsors about podcast ads, or, to podcast networks. Some potential guests might even want a gauge of your numbers before agreeing to come on. If this is the case, it’s best to create a media kit where you can optimally present this data. Also, be sure to explain that audience engagement is just as (if not more) important than hard numbers. As we’ve said so many times in this guide, download numbers never tell the whole story.

Can I See How Many Downloads Other Podcasts Are Getting?

Not unless the podcast host makes their stats publically available.

That said, it might be possible to find an approximate guide using a third-party analytics tool like Chartable or Podtrac. You can search for the podcast in question and see if it’s listed in their directory. If it is, you may see some basic metrics, such as the number of downloads, subscribers, and podcast audience demographics. It’s worth taking any numbers you find with a pinch of salt, though, as they may not be wholly accurate.

Do More Podcast Reviews Equate to More Downloads?

Having lots of ratings and reviews on podcast apps can make a show seem like it has a big audience. Often, this is the case, and the show has reached a critical mass of listeners leaving reviews. It isn’t a rule without exception, though. Some shows have numerically small but super engaged audiences, whilst other podcasters may actively seek out reviews using various methods. Again, this approach can give you a hint, but it’ll never tell the whole story.

Do All Successful Podcasts Have “Big” Download Numbers?

Once again, definitely not. Some of the most successful podcasts out there have numerically small audiences because the topic is extremely niche. Niche audiences are some of the most engaged and fanatical, though. There’s nothing to say that a podcaster in a certain niche might not work full-time on their show with an audience of “only” 100 people.

Can My Hosting Provider Get Me More Downloads?

Podcast hosting platforms are not responsible for your show’s growth or download numbers. In our article on changing podcast host, we talk about how these services set you up with podcast feeds, give you the tools and report the facts, but the rest is up to you.

Summary: Average Podcast Downloads Guide

Ultimately, asking, “What’s a good number of downloads for a podcast?” is similar to asking, “How long is a piece of string?”. Every case is unique. No two podcasts are the same.

By all means, keep track of your download stats. But this isn’t going to help grow your show.

Instead, spend your time on the things that do move the needle. Here are some resources for you, going forward.

Next Steps

Identify your USP – what makes your podcast unique?

Create a value proposition for your podcast

Think about who you want to reach, and create your ideal listener avatar

Write clear and searchable podcast titles as well as episode titles

Consider running an email list.

Don’t be boring

Encourage audience engagement

Give your listeners a reason to keep coming back

If you run an interview show, encourage your guests to share your episodes

And, understand the most common ways that listeners discover podcasts

Use these guides as a framework, and you’ll inevitably start to tap into your potential audience.

And, if you’d like even more help growing your show, check out Podcraft Academy. That’s where you’ll get all our downloadable resources, checklists, and courses. On top of that, we can work directly with you in our weekly live Q&A sessions to answer your questions, give you advice and guidance, and keep you accountable.

You’ll find everything you need in there to grow a successful podcast!

Originally posted on April 11, 2023 @ 4:25 am

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