What is the best way to determine a podcast's popularity?
January 31, 2019 12:48 PM   Subscribe

How can I determine the popularity of a variety of podcasts? Is there any sort of aggregator that pulls in listener/download/subscriber numbers from iTunes, Stitcher, etc? (Note: I'm not looking for podcasts, but evaluating podcasters seeking media credentials.)
posted by Unsomnambulist to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There isn't a central aggregator. Most people:

A: Ask. How many listeners do you have?
B: Look at itunes reviews. This can be dicey though.
C: Check Patreon.
D: Check Google Search Trends for their keywords.

I've heard simply asking is usually the best method. They typically won't lie.
posted by bbqturtle at 1:09 PM on January 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The actual answer to this is sort of "nobody knows" and also "nobody wants you to know" and also "every stakeholder from creator through to advertiser wants to keep the numbers to themselves so they can monetize so they want to know and also for nobody else to know".

At least as of a couple years ago, iTunes wouldn't tell you your actual numbers. Soundcloud would tell you actual downloads, but depending on how you hosted your file it was also being downloaded by other legitimate sources and also long strings of CN and RU and, like, Uzbekistan domains downloading the file over and over again. Putting it on youtube would tell you some view data. Patreon will give you some engagement info but if you're posting audio/video files they're living somewhere else and just being linked so you're back to having a hard time telling.

Nobody knows. I'm pretty sure many advertisers are still guessing based on social media followers and nothing to do with actual downloads, plays, or actual listens (which, of course, is a completely unavailable number).
posted by Lyn Never at 1:43 PM on January 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You might look at the popularity of their social media accounts.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:13 PM on January 31, 2019

Best answer: If they post it on SoundCloud, you can see the listen counts there. Maybe you can try to figure out how audiences tend to breakdown between SoundCloud, iTunes and others. Podcasts are usually posted in a few different platforms, so you'd be trying to add them all up. Also, on Amazon I have read that about 5 percent of people leave a review. That might be higher or lower for podcasts, so it might be worth trying to figure out what percentage of listeners leave an iTunes review and then look at the volume of those.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:02 PM on January 31, 2019

Best answer: I have an app called Player FM that shows how many people subscribe to a podcast when you click on the podcast. I'm thinking this is only subscriptions on this specific app though. There are big differences in numbers which I can see on looking at a few - orders of magnitude - that make sense from my understanding of popularity/reach.
posted by PistachioRoux at 4:37 PM on January 31, 2019

Best answer: If you care about relative popularity more than absolute popularity just comparing their iTunes ranking is at least a rough way to judge.
posted by Wretch729 at 5:26 PM on January 31, 2019

Best answer: So, I recently discovered the iOS podcast app Breaker. Its not a super popular app and i wouldn’t actually use as my main podcast player but for each podcast you subscribe to in that app it tells you how many subscribers there are for that podcast in the app. Now of course the numbers are biased towards users who use non-mainstream podcast apps, but during my cursory look the results looked reasonable — the big well known podcasts had the largest number of subscribers, and the small niche podcasts i checked had very few. You’re also only getting relative sizes — Planet Money of course has more than 7000 listeners, but its not crazy to think it has 7x the number of subscribers as its new spin off The Indicator (which has ~1000).
posted by cgg at 5:27 PM on January 31, 2019

The link to Breaker is a good one. I made a quick Google Sheets to pull numbers from the Breaker website. Seems to work correctly on some popular and randomly selected podcasts.
posted by gregr at 8:32 AM on February 1, 2019

At least as of a couple years ago, iTunes wouldn't tell you your actual numbers.

We shipped Podcast Analytics just over a year ago. The podcast owner can access it in iTunes Connect.

The numbers aren’t public to everyone, but perhaps the podcaster could send over the numbers.
posted by sideshow at 9:18 AM on February 1, 2019

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