Just how big is the podcast discovery gap?

For anyone who has a podcast, getting listeners is the toughest part. Most of us find ourselves digging in to try to make the best content possible, and just hoping that our show will be discovered.

Yes, podcasters want podcast listeners. Of course they do. But do podcast listeners want more podcasts?

Apparently, they do. And now, that gap is bigger than ever.


Product Hunt has always been a part of my podcast marketing repertoire. I didn’t notice until they killed their podcasts section just how many listeners they were bringing in.

I submitted my podcast episodes to Product Hunt religiously, every time an episode launched. My podcast kept growing steadily.

Then one day, on a whim, I didn’t submit an episode to Product Hunt.

Any podcaster can imagine how depressing it would be to see their download numbers drop like that!

In a moment of desperation, I submitted that episode to Product Hunt several days later. Here’s what happened.

“Are these downloads real?” I wondered.

If you want to boost your download numbers, it’s really quite easy: Tweet lots of direct MP3 links to your episodes (called Twitter bombing). Various bots will ping the MP3s, and they’ll count as downloads.

It will look like this:

What it looks like when you Twitter bomb MP3 links – then you stop.

But, this is not something you want to do. Your download numbers will be inflated, and your sponsors will be very disappointed.

This is unfortunate, as direct MP3 links can be more convenient to listen to, but for this reason alone I don’t tweet direct MP3 links.

So, I wondered if these downloads were real. I checked with Ryan Hoover and the Product Hunt team to see if the MP3s were somehow loaded upon each page view. They weren’t.

(I imagine there’s some bot traffic on PH, but I doubt it can account for my changes in download numbers. Podcast episodes were also being upvoted by real people.)

What happened when Product Hunt Podcasts shut down

Sometime around the beginning of February, Product Hunt’s Podcasts section stopped updating. It just displayed old episodes, and didn’t update the new episodes.

Now, several weeks later, Product Hunt has made it official. They don’t accept podcast submissions anymore.

It makes sense. Product Hunt is made for finding products, and podcasts don’t fit into that strategy.

When Product Hunt initially shut down, my download numbers instantly dropped.

Here’s what that looks like in total download numbers.

The shutdown of Product Hunt Podcasts lead to an immediate drop of 20–30% in downloads.

The gap in podcast discovery is potentially HUGE

My experience suggests that there are plenty of people out there who are looking for podcasts to listen to, but who don’t know where to find them.

So, if you’re looking for a useful product to build, consider a podcast discovery app. (Then, submit it to Product Hunt. It’s a strong marketing channel.)


My interview with Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover debuts March 30th. Subscribe on Overcast (or iTunes) so you don’t miss it.