Average Podcast Downloads: What’s a Good Gauge for My Podcast?

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Can you measure the success of your show purely by its download numbers?

Summary: Average Podcast Downloads

  • Podcasting is long-form content. Don't compare podcast download numbers with things like YouTube plays, or social media follower counts.
  • Potential audience sizes are totally dependant on show topics. There's no one single podcast download numbers gauge here.
  • However, statistically, if you get over 26 downloads for a new episode in the first week of its release, you're doing pretty well.
  • Read on to find out more…

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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.

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.

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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 podcast listening.

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.

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Does it (as usual) Just Depend?

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 ran 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.

Average Podcast Downloads

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? Check the news and find out what's happening there.

For more on this, check out our guide to encouraging audience engagement, and 8 ways to measure your podcast engagement.

a cat getting podcast downloads from an audience of dogs

I Still Want a Gauge on Average Podcast Downloads

Buzzsprout are one of the biggest podcast hosting platforms in the world. In fact, with well over 85,000 active shows on their platform, they are arguably the biggest.

Hosting tens of thousands of podcasts means Buzzsprout have a lot of useful data to analyse. This gives them an accurate snapshot 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 be interesting to any podcaster.

If your new episode gets, within 7 days of its release:

  • more than 26 downloads, you're in the top 50% of podcasts.
  • more than 72 downloads, you're in the top 25% of podcasts.
  • more than 231 downloads, you're in the top 10% of podcasts.
  • more than 539 downloads, you're in the top 5% of podcasts.
  • more than 3062 downloads, you're in the top 1% of podcasts.

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

  • 30.3% of listening takes place on Apple Podcasts, with 26.4% on Spotify. Google Podcasts are a distant third at 2.7%.
  • 51% of downloads come from the USA, with 6.8% from the UK, and 5.2% from Canada.
  • Mobile accounts for 88.8% of all podcast downloads, with 63.1% of those coming via the Apple iPhone.

It's worth pointing out, too, that 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 give you the tools and report the facts, but the rest is up to you.

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Summary: Average Podcast Downloads

Ultimately, asking the question “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 exactly 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.

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 with growing your show, check out The Podcast Host 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!

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