With the rising popularity of podcasts, many platforms and apps have emerged that allow audiences to follow their favorite shows. This development enables podcasts to stream on multiple platforms, providing them with pretty wide reach. To the extent of having a single podcast available on all major sources that audiences can access.
If you’re looking to find the most popular podcast on a given topic, it may prove tricky to find out how many people are actually listening to a certain show. Even if you scour the internet for each and every platform or app that’s hosting that very podcast, combining the figures still won’t provide the exact sub count.
The reason is simple. People might use a couple of different platforms, depending on their device. Or they may even have a couple of podcasting services on a single device, which could artificially generate more subs than actual listeners!
Knowing you can’t get the exact number of subscribers, getting the approximate figures will have to do. To determine the popularity of a podcast you’ll have to take several parameters into consideration – subscriptions, the number of episode downloads, as well as the engagement of audiences on social networks.
The most obvious metric of a podcast’s success is its number of subscribers. But, with many platforms serving podcast content, the audiences may be unevenly spread. For example, if a show has a lot of followers on Podbean, the figures may be much lower on Stitcher. And this isn’t directly connected to the popularity of a platform. It mainly depends on which platform that podcast’s audiences gravitate to.
Also, if a host advises their audience to use a certain service to get their content, that may create a bias towards other platforms. For example, the show’s audiences may have issues accessing the content on one platform, or it may be that hosts have a financial deal with another.
Knowing you won’t be dealing with the exact figures, you can use the subscriber count as a decent rule of thumb to assess a podcast’s popularity.
First thing to look for are the biggest podcast hosting platforms – iTunes, Apple Podcast app, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. With Google and Apple, their apps come preinstalled on their respective devices, giving them the widest reach. Spotify, on the other hand, invests a lot in being the best hosting platform, offering a great variety of podcasts.
If that’s not enough to determine the number of subscribers a podcast has, you can also check other popular streaming apps. Take a few of the most popular, like SoundCloud, Stitcher, Podbean, and Castbox, to name but a few.
Downloads and Plays
Depending on the app, it may allow you to check how many times podcast episodes have been downloaded. Again, this metric isn’t exact, since many platforms offer automatic downloading of new episodes. Having each episode of a show downloaded to your phone doesn’t necessarily mean that you listened to them all.
For example, SoundCloud does offer the play count for each episode, but you have to consider how long it’s been available on the platform. Since the number of plays accumulate over time, it’s best to check this statistic for episodes that were uploaded in the past couple of weeks. This will let you determine how much the audiences react to the newly released content.
Besides the metrics mentioned above, it’s useful to check on the show’s engagement on social networks. If the show has a Facebook or Twitter account, or even a YouTube channel, that can provide a great insight into the relationship between the show’s hosts and their audiences.
Even if the topic may interest you, social media can help you gauge the personality of the hosts. Sometimes you just can’t stand someone talking about your favorite topic. Also, if their personality is extremely charismatic, you may like their show regardless of the topic.
Take Joe Rogan, for example. He’s so interesting to listen to, it doesn’t matter who he’s talking to.
Analyzing the Data
When you have the approximate number of subscribers and the amount of plays or downloads, you can combine these figures to get a better perspective on the podcast’s overall popularity.
One of the metrics to consider is a comparison between the number of downloads and the subscriber count. The higher the ratio, the more popular the podcast. For example, if a podcast has generated 80,000 downloads overall from 10,000 subscribers, that certainly means there are some recurring listeners out there. The lower the ratio though, it means that people occasionally bump into the show, check out one episode, and never come back for more.
When it comes to social media, it’s always interesting to take a look at the like/dislike ratio certain episodes get. Of course, you can also dig deeper into the comments section, to see what the listeners are saying about it.
Do You Host a Podcast?
If you host a podcast, things can get a bit more precise, but not by much. It all depends on the platform you’re using. You can track where your listeners are coming from, but it’s still hard to tell the exact sub count.
When you’re hosting a podcast on a dedicated website, you can check the traffic analytics and look at browsers as a source. As probably the largest, this metric provides the number of times people have clicked on a certain episode of your podcast. This by no means translates to the number of subscriptions though.
These may be either random visits, or visits from people who regularly come to your website for more content. Of course, you have no certain way of telling which of the two prevails. Random visits usually come from social media posts, directing people to a certain episode of your podcast.
Subscribers Are Not the Ultimate Metric
Even though the number of subscribers provides a sense of a podcast’s popularity, it’s not the only metric you should go by. When looking for a podcast, also consider its audience engagement on social media.
How often do you listen to podcasts? What is your method of choosing a podcast? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.