Does Techmeme have the most committed audience in podcasting?
So, I’ll be straight up about this… this is a bit of a self-promo post.
But everybody has been chattering about today’s NYTimes article about peak podcasts, and that had this section in it (emphasis mine):
“The thing about podcasts,” Dr. North added, “is that it’s very, very hard to determine popularity. It’s easy for the host to appear to be an influencer. And whether anybody finds that podcast or listens to it and the bounce rate — who knows?”
People use all kinds of metrics to tout the popularity of their shows, whether it’s the number of iTunes reviews they get or the total downloads they receive per month. These metrics mean different things and don’t necessarily connote success.
Well, I recently found a different metric for podcast… stickiness… shall we call it… that might reveal something interesting about podcast audiences and their level of commitment to—and engagement with—certain types of podcasts. So, if you’re interested in the podcasting ecosystem at all, I’ve got some anecdotal data to consider.
Last October, Jack Rhysider posted this piece: 4 Ways to Check the Popularity of a Podcast. The best tool I never knew existed was number 4 on his list, a sort of hack into the data the Castbox podcast app provides.
This is a mobile app but also a web player. It also sees about 2% of total podcast downloads. But Castbox not only shows us number of subscribers but also number of downloads.
Now when you can see both number of subscribers and number of downloads, you begin to see exactly how popular a show is for the people who subscribe.
Here’s the math:
Downloads / Subscribers = Average number of episodes subscribers listen to
So if we take Darknet Diaries above we see:
62,406 downloads / 7,312 subscribers = Avg number of episodes each subscriber listens to: 8.5
The average Darknet Diaries subscriber listens to 8.5 episodes. This strongly indicates listeners stick around for a while or binge through many episodes.
Some shows have more subscribers than downloads, this indicates not everyone who subscribes actually listens to the show. And shows that have people who listen to one episode then leave will have a low number here.
Jack goes on to crunch the numbers on some popular shows… again, that last number suggests how many episodes listeners download on some sort of super broad average.
Joe Rogan Experience: 872,346 / 17,962,546 = 20
This American Life: 2,511,059 / 414,812 = 6.05
Reply All: 613,397 / 59,786 = 10.26
My Favorite Murder: 4,831,417 / 237,443 = 20.34
Sword and Scale: 3,125,845 / 144,584 = 21.62
Welcome to Night Vale: 1,153,957 / 110,906 = 10.40
I found this data interesting because, to my knowledge, this sort of a glimpse into podcast stickiness (and please note, I’m not saying this is definitive… Castbox has always been less than 3% of the listeners to any of my podcasts) has never been available anywhere before. Not just how many downloads a podcast has… not just how many subscribers… but how committed an audience is to a given podcast.
Not surprised that Joe Rogan has an audience that sticks around. Joe’s audience is an old school personality-driven radio audience… and I mean that in the best way possible. Also, certain podcasts like Sword and Scale or even Welcome to Night Vale are built for binge-ability. You discover them and you want to go through the whole catalog (or, at least, those shows really hope you do… :)
Now, of course I couldn’t help but plug my own show into the formula. Here is the Techmeme Ride Home podcast on Castbox:
103,179 played/3190 subscribers…. 32.24 episodes per subscriber.
Wow! More than any of those on Jack’s list… and there are some pretty heavy-hitting podcasts on that list!
Let’s check another popular podcast. Here are the numbers for The Daily from the New York Times:
15,615,426 played/677,655 subscribed…. 23.04.
So, I picked The Daily because it’s another daily podcast like the Techmeme Ride Home. And, yes, half the reason I’m sharing this is to crow about how its cool we’ve got a higher number than even The Daily. I admit it.
But also, I want to suggest that this metric might reveal something about WHY everyone and their mother is doing a daily podcast all of the sudden. Not only are dailies very profitable to produce, but also consider this premise:
Daily Podcasts FTW
Everyone says that podcasts succeed as a medium because they’re intimate. You’re inside someone’s head.
And they’re time-shifted, on-demand content… but also, and crucially… they are appointment content. Focused content. In this world of watching tv and checking instagram and sending text messages and playing video games all at the same time, podcasts are something you focus on. Sure, you might focus on them while running on a treadmill or doing the dishes or… riding home from work. But you’re focused. Podcasts absorb attention.
What other media can say that these days?
So (and again, I’m not the first to make this point) podcast listeners are maybe the most committed (and thus the most valuable) media consumers out there. Because they’re focused. Podcast fans are the the most committed audience in modern media.
I would posit that if that’s true, then DAILY podcast audiences are the podcast ultras. The MOST committed. Think about it. Podcasts are a part of a lot of people’s routines. I love that Mondays are Comedy Bang Bang days for me. And Wednesdays are Nerd Poker days. And The Watch begins and ends my week. Podcasts become a habit just like your favorite tv show used to in a pre Netflix era.
But think about how daily podcasts become a part of people’s DAILY ROUTINES. I know this for sure. If I’m even 15 minutes late posting the Techmeme Ride Home (it’s supposed to come out at 5pm every day for the, you know… commute home) I hear about it. Immediately. On twitter. People expect daily shows to be on when they are getting dressed in the morning. When they take their dog for an evening walk. When they do their daily gym routine or when falling asleep. When their routine is disrupted, they notice.
So, my quick summary is this: if podcasts listeners are the most committed modern media consumers, then daily podcast listeners are the hard core, the die hards, the ultras. If you can rack up listeners to a daily podcast, then those are the most powerful audience out there.
And with the dailies, people seem stick around. Because=routine.
Quick bits of additional data. Our other daily Ride Home podcast, the Election Ride Home? Here are its numbers:
6976/437 = 15.96
Not bad for a 3-month old show. Respectable. Getting there.
But you know the king of the dailies, as far as I can tell? Today, Explained:
1,193,483/23,959 = 49.81!!!
Congrats Today, Explained. Kind of proves my point… podcast ultras FTW
PS: If you want to test out the Techmeme Ride Home podcast, you can do so here. Hopefully you’ll stick around. :)