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The Sound of Success: Understanding Podcast Downloads

impactful plays podcast downloads Jul 22, 2023

New podcast hosts always ask the question, how does is my podcast doing? The average number of downloads for a podcast can vary significantly depending on the show's niche, content quality, marketing efforts, and target audience.There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

Additionally, the success of a podcast is not solely determined by download numbers; other factors include engagement, audience loyalty, listen through rates out impactful plays, and the potential for monetization also play critical roles.

Should You Care About Download Numbers?

Yes, and no. It depends on your goals for the show, and if you plan to monetize. There are several ways a podcast host can determine how well their show is doing based on downloads and others.

Here are some methods to determine how well your podcast is doing:

Subscriber Numbers

Subscriptions can provide an indication of a dedicated audience who consistently downloads new episodes.


Track Download Numbers

The most direct way is to track the total number of downloads per episode over time. Many podcast hosting platforms offer analytics tools that provide download numbers. Keep in mind, though, that a single listener might account for multiple downloads if they pause and resume listening, or listen on different devices.


Podcast Listen-Through Rate

The podcast listen-through rate measures the proportion of listeners who start listening to an episode and continue to listen to the entire episode without dropping off before it ends. It is essentially a metric that indicates the level of engagement and interest of the podcast audience in a specific episode. By tracking listen-through rates for different episodes, podcast creators can identify which topics, formats, or guests are most appealing to their audience. This data helps in creating better content and understanding what content is driving more engagement.


Rankings and Visibility

Podcast platforms often use algorithms that consider listener engagement (like the number of downloads, listens, and reviews) when ranking podcasts. Podcasts with higher engagement tend to rank higher in search results and podcast charts. Thus, by creating impactful episodes that attract more downloads, you can increase your podcast's visibility and potentially attract new listeners.


Observe Trends

Look for trends over time. Are download numbers increasing, decreasing, or remaining steady? An upward trend suggests that the podcast is growing in popularity. Remember to take into account external factors that may affect your numbers (like seasonality, special promotions, or guest appearances).


Comparative Episode Performance

Compare the download numbers of different episodes. Episodes that significantly outperform others might indicate topics, guests, or formats that resonate with your audience.


Audience Retention

It’s important to know not just how many downloads you’re getting, but also whether people are sticking around to listen. Check the "average completion rate" or "average listening time" provided by your podcast analytics to see how much of each episode people typically listen to. Listeners often decide whether they'll subscribe or return to a podcast based on the first episode they listen to. If this episode, or 'play', is engaging, insightful, and high-quality, it's more likely that they'll download more episodes and become regular listeners.


Listener Engagement

Downloads don't tell the whole story. It's also crucial to monitor engagement levels. This could be through comments, emails, social media interactions, or reviews/ratings on podcast platforms.

If your podcast regularly offers content that resonates with your audience, listeners will feel more connected to your podcast, leading to a dedicated community around your content. This community can become a valuable resource, providing feedback, supporting crowdfunding efforts, and even assisting in content creation by submitting questions, comments, or topic suggestions.



Knowing the demographics of your audience (age, location, etc.) can help you tailor your content more effectively and can be another indicator of your show’s reach.


Sponsorship and Monetization

The more downloads your podcast has, the more attractive it is to potential sponsors. Advertisers want to reach as many people as possible, and if your podcast episodes consistently receive a high number of downloads, you'll be more likely to secure lucrative sponsorship deals. Podcasts with a higher listen-through rate are more attractive to potential sponsors, as they offer a higher chance of the audience hearing the ad in its entirety. If your podcast is monetized, the revenue generated or sponsor interest can also be an indicator of how well the podcast is doing.


Impactful plays

Impactful plays play a crucial role in the number of podcast downloads, listener engagement, and the overall growth of a podcast. Impactful episodes are more likely to be shared by listeners. Word-of-mouth is a powerful form of marketing, and by creating content that listeners want to share, you can increase your podcast's visibility and reach a larger audience.

Impactful plays are vital in growing your podcast, increasing its visibility, boosting listener engagement, and generating income. However, creating such plays requires a deep understanding of your audience, well-researched content, high-quality production, and a unique, authentic voice.

Remember, not all of these factors will apply to every podcast, and the importance of each will depend on your goals for the show. If you're seeking a broad audience, total downloads might be the most important metric. If you're more interested in fostering a dedicated fanbase, then engagement metrics might be more useful. It's important to define your objectives and success criteria in advance so that you're tracking the most relevant metrics.

For more inspiration be sure to check out the Spark Media Conversations Podcast. 

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