Average Downloads for New Podcasts: 13 real-world examples and what to expect

Yeah baby! Two of my podcasts ranking high in the competitive "Technology" category on iTunes.

Yeah baby! Two of my podcasts ranking high in the competitive “Technology” category on iTunes.

I launched my first podcast in 2008, way before podcasting was even remotely cool.  I’ve had some very successful podcasts and some podcasts that were failures.  In this post I want to share some numbers with you that may help you to know what to expect in terms of download numbers for a new podcast.

A podcast episode that has been live approximately 30 days averages 141 downloads. If you have over 3400 downloads you are in the top 10%. If you have over 9000 downloads you are in the top 5%. Lastly, if you have over 50,000 downloads per episode (again after having it live for 30 days) you are in the top 1%. Rob Walch, VP of Podcaster Relations at Libsyn (As quoted by SchoolOfPodcasting.com)

25 Real-World Examples of Podcasts and Their Download Numbers

  • The Improve Photography Podcast – 24,000 downloads per episode.  This podcast is one of the largest (if not THE largest) photography podcast out there.  It is currently in its third year of running and is backed by a large social media following of over 1 million followers.  This is my most successful podcast, and it has 1,000 positive reviews in iTunes.
  • Entrepreneur Tips Podcast – 300 downloads per episode.  This show was launched with the best efforts of the podcaster, but the show never really caught traction.  There was no independent audience on the website before the podcast was launched.  This is a VERY VERY common scenario to see from a new podcaster without an established audience who is just relying on posting on their own personal social media, commenting on blogs, and hoping for new and noteworthy in iTunes.  It probably won’t work well.
  • Photo Taco Podcast – 7,700 downloads per episode.  This is a short-format podcast of about 15 minutes in length.  It is supported by a large website as well.  The show is growing steadily in popularity.  This is a show that I own, and which is run by an independent host.
  • Weekend Games Podcast – 20 to 30 downloads per episode.  They are 45 episodes into the show.  It dropped about 20% of its downloads after it left new and noteworthy.
  • LSAT Prep Podcast – 1,000 downloads per episode.  This was an interesting podcast.  The host basically helped college students who were preparing to go to law school to take the LSAT.  The show had a very niche audience, but a very interested audience.  The trouble with the show is that as people took the test, they stopped listening.  However, 1,000 downloads per episode was really quite good considering how valuable this audience of pre-lawyers is.  This podcast was launched without an existing audience.
  • Home School People Podcast – 750 downloads per episode.  This show was backed by a small niche site that was getting fair traffic.  The show had good content and the podcaster had many popular hosts in the industry as guests, but he never quite hit critical mass and the show fizzled.
  • The Art of Charm – 80,000 downloads per episode.  This is one of the top 40 podcasts in the world.
  • Hair Dressers Unite! – 200 to 300 downloads per episode.
  • Business From Home Podcast – 80 to 90 listens per episode even while in the new and noteworthy section.  The show fizzled out.
  • Tripod PodcastVariable between 10,000 and 25,000 downloads.  This show varies quite a lot depending on how the show performs as a youtube video.  If a particular episode is amenable to video as well as audio, the video episode often does very well.  This is one of my podcasts.
  • School of Podcasting – 1,200 to 2,000 downloads per episode (reported a couple years ago).  This is an excellent podcast with great information and is worth a listen.
  • Ding Dong Podcast – 500 downloads per episode
  • Religion Answers Podcast – 200 downloads per episode.  This show had two hosts who talked about religion.  The content of the show was good, but the show simply didn’t gain traction.  The hosts were just never quite sure how to get the show in front of a larger audience.
  • The Audacity to Podcast – 7,500 downloads per episode according to this post.  This is for a popular show which has been running for years.
  • Being Honest with My Ex – 700 downloads per episode while in the new and noteworthy section still and 3o episodes.
  • Portrait Session Podcast –  5,000 downloads per episode.  This is one of the podcasts that is done by excellent independent hosts on my podcast network.

Note, while all of the above examples are real, some of the names of the podcasts have been changed for privacy reasons since I didn’t ask permission from some of the people before posting.

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Podcasts are Booming, But Downloads are Declining for New Shows

There are tons of podcasting courses out there today filling entrepreneurs’ heads with the idea that podcasting is basically a huge gold rush.  It really isn’t–at all.  The truth is that when I launched a podcast several years ago, I could expect 1,000 downloads per episode just by being on new and noteworthy.

Now, I’m seeing most new shows without an established audience working really hard to get 200 downloads an episode if you don’t have an established audience.  In 2013, there were 100 podcasts being launched PER DAY on iTunes.  Now, there are more like 350 new shows a day.

Number of new podcast feeds launched per day in 2013
100
Number of new podcast feeds launched per day in 2016
350

The market is tough.  If you don’t have a really clever launch strategy using some advanced techniques, you aren’t likely to make it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think podcasting is amazing.  I just know that the competition is tough, so you really have to up your game in order to make it.

How I Tripled My Podcast Downloads Overnight

I have been frustrated for years by the fact that I spend time preparing for a podcast episode, schedule with others to be guests on the show, and then record the show for an hour and then it only goes out in audio format.  I tried and failed multiple times to create an audio and video version of the show at the same time–but I’ve finally figured it out.

Now, when I create a show, it goes out as a normal audio podcast, it’s posted on Youtube as a video, AND I live stream it on Facebook Live!  The day I flipped that switch, my download numbers doubled or tripled (depending on the episode).  It was AWESOME!  I’d busted my butt for years trying to get more listeners and then this one change yielded immediate results.

I definitely believe 100% that if you’re launching a podcast in this market, you absolutely must do more than just putting it on new and noteworthy and hoping to see downloads.  Frankly, it’s unlikely that you’ll succeed that way.

I created an audio course called Podcast Advance that walks you through the tips I use to market my podcasts and how I’m producing multiple versions of the same podcast on different platforms.  I priced Podcast Advance way too low just because I’m excited about it and really want this information to get out there to more podcasters.  You can pick up the Podcast Advance audio course here.

The things I’m teaching in Podcast Advance are not theory.  It’s the exact techniques I’ve personally used to create one of the top 10 shows in my iTunes category which brings in a substantial and steady income from advertising and other revenue.

Two Important Notes About How to Count Podcast Downloads

Just so the real-world examples below make sense, I have to be clear on how I’m measuring downloads.  People have different definitions, so I want you to be able to compare apples-to-apples.

Downloads for a podcast EPISODE are typically measured by the number of downloads the episode gets in the first 90 days after it is released.  That is the standard method for determining numbers for reporting to advertisers on a show.

It’s very common for a podcast to get many thousands more downloads on the first episode of the podcast than on any other episode, because as people find your podcast years down the road, they may like it and download all episodes–usually starting with episode one.  That doesn’t really count.  Only the downloads in the first 90 days count toward the industry-standard download counting method.

Second, you’ll likely see large variations in how downloads are counted between platforms.  I switched one of my podcasts from Libsyn to Blubrry and saw a slight reduction in the number of downloads (about 4%) simply because Blubrry is a little more strict about how they count downloads from bots or multiple downloads from the same IP address.  Then I switched all of my podcasts over to Soundcloud for hosting and there was little change.

Blubrry, Libsyn, and Soundcloud all have different algorithms, but they are all very well-regarded platforms.  If you’re using a random lesser-known podcast host, you may be seeing numbers that are GROSSLY inflated if the platform doesn’t cut out spam and repeat downloads to the same device.

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