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Don’t Launch Your Horror Podcast in October (Here’s Why…)

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October is the perfect time for scary stories around a campfire or by candlelight. Accordingly, one might think this is the perfect time to launch a horror podcast. One would be wrong. We have data proving that October is the most challenging time to launch and promote a horror podcast. Don’t worry; I’m also going to offer solutions that may work for you.

Rob Christopher has collated data on new audio drama podcast releases since 2019, with more data going back nearly 20 years. His @AudioDramaDebut account on Twitter shows new podcast releases for drama, audiobooks, and role-playing game podcasts. It’s a treasure trove for people who need a new listening experience. In all that time, he’s noticed some patterns.

Audio Drama, Fiction and RPG releases 2004-2022 month of first episode
Audio Drama, Fiction, and RPG releases 2004-2022 month of the first episode. October exceeds all other months by a minimum of 5%.

From 2004 to 2021, October has the lion’s share of fiction podcast releases: not just horror but audio drama, audio fiction, sci-fi, and role-playing game podcasts.

Audio Drama, Fiction and RPG new releases 2019-2021. Source: @AudioDramaDebut.
Audio Drama, Fiction, and RPG new releases, 2019-2021. Source: @AudioDramaDebut.

A notable change to this pattern is that January of 2021 had a lot of fiction podcast releases, while October dropped by comparison to 2020 and 2019, nearly matching January’s proportion.

Percentage of new drama, fiction and RPG releases categorised as "horror" by month, 2019-2021
Percentage of new drama, fiction and RPG releases categorised as “horror” by month, 2019-2021

Over the course of a year, the percentage of all fiction podcasts characterized as horror is the greatest in October: nearly a third for 2020 and 2021.

Percentage of audio drama, fiction, or RPG new releases by day in October.

As far as which day in October is the most popular, the first of October starts strong at about 5%. There’s a drop and then a gradual increase over the month. From the 30th to the 31st, the number of new horror releases doubled or nearly tripled, to about 13%.

If you planned to release a new horror podcast on October 31st, it would need an extensive promotion campaign or have a hard time finding its audience.

Do More People Want Horror Podcasts in October?

Google Trends tracks search terms to determine popularity over time. This system scores interest on a scale of 0-100. For the same time period, 2019-2021, in the US, the most significant spike in interest in “horror podcasts” occurred from the 23rd through the 29th of June 2019. September, March, and August aren’t less popular than October.

Horror Podcasts search term popularity on Google Trends 2019-2021
Horror Podcasts search term popularity on Google Trends 2019-2021

Image: Horror Podcasts search term popularity US 2019-2021

In the UK, Google Trends search term tracking for the same period of time is more sparse. June, March, May, December, and November are the months when “horror podcasts” scored 75 out of 100 or more. The highest peak is March of 2021 (100).

Horror podcasts search term popularity on Google Trends in the UK, 2019-2021
Horror podcasts search term popularity on Google Trends in the UK, 2019-2021

In the UK, the search term “horror podcasts” scores a 0 more often than it does in the US, and maintains that score for longer periods. It’s also rare that it scored higher than 75 between 2019-2021. The time period in the Uk when “horror podcasts” were most popular on Google Trends was December of 2020. None of the highest dates were in October.

If it’s essential for you to celebrate Halloween by launching a horror podcast, I’m not going to stop you. If your podcast has a built-in audience (for example, a community theatre company or a university communications program), by all means, go for it. But, if you’re planning to make a podcast that stands out from the pack, consider another month.

An octopus interviews Edgar Allan Poe for their podcast.
“So, tell me more about this guy under the floorboards, Mr. Ed.”

When Should I Release My Horror Podcast?

Think about what makes your horror podcast different from other podcasts, and try to tie it into something else. If your horror podcast feels like a summer blockbuster movie (like Jaws or Poltergeist), launch in the summer.

If autumn is essential to you, launch earlier. Take advantage of the start of the spooky season by launching in September. Then let your season gain momentum in October.

Winter Solstice is a very good time. It’s a Western tradition to listen to ghost stories at the darkest time of year. A Christmas Carol is loaded with ghosts, Oh Whistle And I’ll Come To You My Lad shows up in collections of wintry scares. If you’re planning a horror podcast, winter is an excellent time to launch.

Also, do memorable and exciting stories really need a holiday tie-in?

Too Late! I’m Already Launching My Horror Podcast in October. What Do I Do?

Use best practices for promotion. Lean into your niche. Who’s your ideal audience? What makes your horror podcast different from others in the genre?

Make a podcast trailer. Find other podcasts that are a good fit for your goals, and cross-promote. Check out Tink Media’s trailer swap database. Your podcast doesn’t;t have to cross-promote with another horror show, as long as there’s some overlap to the audience. Does your horror podcast involve love gone wrong? Try swapping with a rom-com. Plenty of true crime podcasts can overlap with horror.

Send your launch information to The Fiction Podcast Weekly. This newsletter has a special section for Milestones, Debuts, and Finales. Over fourteen hundred audio fiction enthusiasts look there for entertainment.

Throw a listening party on YouTube Live or Twitch. Invite your friends, social media followers, and anyone else you know. Play your podcast episode and chat with your audience in the comment section.

There’s no shame in postponing your launch by a few weeks. It’s better to postpone and have a more substantial show than to rush to the deadline and put out a sloppy podcast. If you’ve already announced your launch, let your following know that you’re postponing and when the show will be available. Use the extra time to polish your show; make sure you have transcripts for greater accessibility. Then, launch on the new deadline.

If you have to launch your new horror podcast in October, do it between the 2nd and the 25th. The competition becomes steep, particularly when you get into the last week of October.

sharing stories around a campfire

Don’t Worry, Be Spooky

October is a beautiful month. Whether in the Northern or the Southern hemisphere, you’re in a sweet spot for temperate weather. People can socialize easily, but it’s cool enough that introversion is socially acceptable. Is it the perfect time to listen to podcasts? Don’t stress out too much. The purpose of horror podcasts is an adrenaline thrill coupled with rebellion and a sense of wonder. Any time is a good time for that.

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