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Average Podcast Downloads: Podcast Measurement and Growth

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This post is also available in: Português

 

Average Podcast Downloads: At-a-glance:

  • Podcasting is long-form content. Don’t compare podcast download numbers with YouTube plays, 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 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/X followers, we’ve become accustomed to figures in the hundreds of thousands (and even millions!).

It’s important to realise, though, that these numbers are completely irrelevant to podcasting. The time and effort it takes to click ‘Follow’ on social 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 ten people in the world, and you were getting seven downloads an episode, statistically, you’d be running the most popular show in history.

The big factor is the size of your potential audience. 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?


gabe

Case Study – Board Game Design Lab

Gabe, who runs the Board Game Design Lab Podcast, shared some great words of wisdom on a recent episode of Podcraft.

“The ceiling for board game design is pretty low. It’s not like Joe Rogan; it’s not like Tim Ferriss, where the whole world is kind of potential, right? And so, you have to be more intentional about not overspending. It’s like, how many people are there? How many people are in your industry and listen to podcasts and care about what you’re doing?”


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, celebrity social media accounts, and behemoth podcasts like the JRE.

Audience Quality & Engagement

An audience might seem “small” in a numerical sense. But with long-form content like podcasting, shows with smaller but more niche hyper-targeted audiences are often 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 rather 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. Or it could be 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 is one of the biggest podcast-hosting platforms in the world. In fact, with well over 124,500 active shows, it’s 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.

How Many Podcast Downloads Is Good?

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

  • more than 30 downloads, you’re in the top 50% of podcasts.
  • more than 115 downloads, you’re in the top 25% of podcasts.
  • more than 470 downloads, you’re in the top 10% of podcasts.
  • more than 1,100 downloads, you’re in the top 5% of podcasts.
  • more than 4,782 downloads, you’re in the top 1% of podcasts.

[Updated May, 2024]

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

Podcast Downloads on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, & Google Podcasts

36.6% of listening takes place on Spotify, with 33.8% on Apple Podcasts.

Buzzsprout

Podcast Download Locations

44.1% of downloads come from the USA, with 6.4% from the UK, and 4.5% from Canada, and 4.4% from Australia. Germany are in fifth place with 3.1% of the share.

Buzzsprout

Podcast Download Devices

Mobile accounts for 85.4% of all podcast downloads, with 61.9% of those coming via the Apple iPhone.

Buzzsprout

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?

Some creators might say, “Oh, I get 10,000 downloads a month, ” but that doesn’t 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 hundreds 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 are often asked about podcast download numbers in our IndiePod Community. Here are a few of the most frequent questions.

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, if you’re in discussions with any 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?

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.

Podcast Downloads vs Listens: What’s the Difference?

The end result is typically the same: the audience hears your content. However, there are some subtle differences between podcast listens and podcast downloads.

A download is when the episode is—funnily enough—downloaded onto a device such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone. From a listener’s point of view, this makes it more flexible to consume because you’re no longer reliant on an internet connection.

But from a podcaster, network, or advertiser’s point of view, it makes it harder to “prove” that a listen has happened. After all, someone might download an episode but never actually hear it.

A “listen” can be playing a previously downloaded episode, or it can be someone streaming an episode via the web or a podcast listening app. This can make it easier to see that listening has actually happened. That said, it’s a mistake to try and force your audience to stream rather than download. Let folks make up their own minds about how they prefer to consume your content.

If you need to demonstrate to sponsors, advertisers, etc, that your download numbers accurately reflect your listener numbers, you can show engagement via factors and strategies such as audience surveys, and your Calls to Action.  

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, and 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’s our pillar guide to growing an audience, which can help form the basis of a solid and effective podcast promotion plan:

podcast promotion

Podcast Promotion: From Your First 100 Listeners to Your Next 100K!

And finally, a few questions for you:

Based on your topic, what do you feel your podcast’s potential audience is, and how does that stack up against your existing audience numbers? How much growth do you have left on the table? And what are your next steps for reaching those new listeners?

Hop into the IndiePod Community and let us know!

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