June 9, 2023

We Analysed 4 Million Podcasts: This is What We Learned

The world of entertainment has changed over the last decade and the shift is getting bigger. The biggest stars of the 2020s grow online and most of them stay there!

Podcasting in 2023 is where you can find the biggest stars in the world today. Spotify paid Joe Rogan at least $200 million to host his popular podcast on their platform. The podcasting industry is worth around $23.56 billion, and new podcasters are joining this industry every single day.

But how can a new podcast find success in the competitive world of podcasting? We wanted to find out, and what we found surprised us! The best way to find out is to look into the data, and that’s exactly what we did. This report goes through everything we learned from analysing over 4 million podcasts and 30 podcast platforms.

Quick Takeaways

The average podcast has 141 downloads after 30 days

The most popular podcasts are in the comedy genre

The best podcasts have an excellent host who connects with the audience

The best podcasts have good production values and clear audio

Spotify and Apple Music lead the podcast market, sharing 60-71% of podcast listeners

53.8% of podcast listeners find their podcasts by searching their listening app or Google

46.2% of podcast listeners find their podcasts by word of mouth and featured podcasts on their listening app

The Rollercoaster World of Podcasting in 2023!

Podcasting, like most modern entertainment, has a few massive success stories and a lot of complete failures. We all heard about Joe Rogan’s Spotify deal, but we don’t hear about the struggle of new podcasters fighting to find listeners. The first thing we needed to do was to understand the reality of the average podcast.

Well, the average podcast currently gets around 141 downloads 30 days after going live. However, podcast growth appears to be exponential, it jumps up to 3,400 downloads for the top 10% and over 50,000 for the top 1%.

It is important to note that most podcast platforms do not publicly release information about listens or downloads. The actual amount of listeners for each podcast may be higher in reality. But the fact remains that the minority of podcasts will receive most of the audience. So, what’s the best way to get into the top one per cent of podcast listens?

The Ingredients to a Popular Podcast

There are many ingredients that make up a popular podcast. These are: the genre, the host, the production quality and the platform. If you’re looking to get into podcasting in 2023 then you need to get these ingredients right!

The most popular genres are comedy podcasts, societ and culture podcasts, news podcasts, and true crime podcasts. These podcast genres have always had a strong following of listeners, but they also have a lot of competition.

Experts agree that an excellent host is important for a popular podcast. Each genre may need unique attributes from a host, but the connection they have with the audience is always vital. Klara Tuličić, a B2B podcast consultant and podcaster, states that it is “something that ‘clicks’ with the audience, leaving them energized after listening, and wanting to listen to more of it.”

The common aspect we found in the most popular podcasts was the production values. The most popular podcasts had introduction music, sound effects and high-quality artwork. But clear audio is the key factor that sets popular podcasts apart. As John Luckenbaugh, Owner/Head of Production for Q’d Up, stated, “if the quality isn’t great, your listeners will go find that information in other places.”

Finally, the platform that the podcast appears on is important for reaching an audience. The traditional wisdom has always been to find out where your audience is and focus on building an audience on that platform. But what we found when researching podcast platforms has turned that idea on its head!

What Are The Best Platforms For Podcasting in 2023?

The numbers of podcast listeners varies, depending on which numbers you believe. However, it’s clear Spotify and Apple Music are the top dogs, owning a combined 60-71% of the market. Realistically, you don’t wait to avoid either of these platforms if you want to succeed in the podcasting world.

However, you don’t want to only focus on these platforms. Tuličić recommends using a podcasting website and also using video clips on YouTube to build an audience. Luckenbaugh also notes that you’d be foolish not to distribute your podcast to the wide audience available on the smaller platforms.

This matches up with the information available on where people usually find podcasts. 40% stated that they searched on their podcast listening app and 13.6% stated that they searched on Google. You can only reach these potential listeners if you appear in the places they are searching.

Interestingly enough, the other 46.2% of listeners found their podcasts via word of mouth or the featured podcasts on their listening app. Which helps to explain why podcast growth appears to be exponential. You need to get your podcast in front of people, deliver quality, and rewards will come.

What Should a New Podcast Do?

So, we know everything there is to know about podcasts and podcasting platforms. But what should podcasters do with this information? Let’s close out this report with the five steps you should take if you want to succeed when podcasting in 2023:

  1. Consistently improve your skills as a host.

You may not be a great host now, but if you work at it, you will always improve. Tuličić provided a great example of Travis Tyler from PandaDoc’s Customer Engagement Lab, “took improv classes for 2 years and has a contagious laugh, makes his guests feel relaxed, honest, and in a good mood. And listeners feel and reflect those feelings.” Make sure that you put the hard work in!

  1. Choose the right genre for you.

Sure, it may be tempting to go for the most popular genres, but you need to have an interest in the subject, the right skills and a unique approach on the subject. If you have these, then go for the most popular genres, but if you don’t, becoming a bigger fish in a small pond will give you better results.

  1. Put effort into your production.

That extra effort you put into the little final touches on your podcast will give you the best results. If your podcast is dull and sounds bad, people will switch it off and look somewhere else. Use music, use sound effects and improve the audio.

Professional audio production, like the services we offer right here at BKP Group, will give you the best results. But if you don’t have the budget, Luckenbaugh has some tips that will get the best out of what you can afford: “Being knowledgeable about microphone technique, being mindful of room acoustics and outside noise, having a knowledge of a digital audio workstation for editing will all help in improving your sound quality.”

  1. Get your podcast in front of as many people as possible.

Most people find a new podcast through their listening app or a Google search. You don’t want to neglect any of these audiences. Set up a podcast website and distribute your podcast to every platform possible. Then, focus your energy on building an audience on the platform that gives you the best results.

  1. Content and Consistency Are Key!

Everyone knows that the best podcasts out there have interesting content and a regular upload schedule. Their listeners know what to expect from each show and when to expect it. If you keep this in mind, you will have an audience sitting and waiting for your next podcast to go live. Especially when they know you’re releasing a video on something extremely topical or interesting.

Luckenbaugh has a warning for podcasters who give up on their consistent schedule: “The moment you break, that is the moment your audience will substitute and replace your content with other available content and no guarantees they will be back.”

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