If you're researching a particular podcast, or planning to pitch yourself as a guest, you probably want to know how many people are listening to it.
Perhaps you want to boost your business by sponsoring podcasts in your niche? Or maybe you host your own show, and you're dying to know how similar shows are performing.
Surely finding that info will be a piece of cake? Well, it is if you use Rephonic. The trouble is that only the podcast publisher knows their actual number of listeners, downloads and subscribers.
We’ve laid out a few techniques you can use to look up valuable podcast stats and figure out how popular a show is.
Table of Contents
- Six ways to tell how many listeners a podcast has
- Ratings and reviews
- Apple Podcasts chart rankings
- Metrics revealed by some apps
- Social media presence
- Ask the publisher
- Is it possible to check how many downloads a podcast has?
- Is it possible to see how many subscribers a podcast has?
🎧 Six ways to tell how many listeners a podcast has
1. Get podcast listener numbers using Rephonic
The easiest way to discover how many listeners a podcast has is with Rephonic. We have comprehensive metrics for every podcast in our database, including listener estimates.
We collect hundreds of publicly available data points for each one of our 2+ million podcasts to come up with our metrics. Of course, it is a "best guess," so if you're set on knowing the real listener numbers, you'll have to contact the podcast publisher directly.
2. Check ratings and reviews
Many people try to size up a podcast by checking Apple Podcast's ratings and reviews. As the current dominant podcast player (especially in the US) it's almost always the place that aggregates the most listener feedback.
You could try to guess that a podcast has a large audience by the total number of ratings it has. But this is a somewhat flawed approach because there's not always direct link between the volume of listener feedback and the size of a show's audience.
Also, to get a full picture of its audience, you'll have to check each of the podcast apps where you can listen to the show. The best ones to check are Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, Podcast Addict, Podchaser and Amazon/Audible.
Do the fans rate it as a quality show, and what are the comments like? Enthusiastic? Excited? Are their superfans raving, or are the comments brief and boring or even non-existent?
Rephonic collects all of this listener feedback and makes it available for free. Here's an example for The Daily (scroll down to "Reviews").
3. Inspect chart rankings
Similarly to ratings and reviews, Apple Podcasts is the best place to look for the most comprehensive podcast charts. If a show is ranking high in its category — or perhaps across all categories — then that's a pretty good indication that they have a sizeable audience.
Apple's charts are not ideal, though. It's thought that they are calculated by looking at the number of new followers (previously 'subscribers') each podcast has added over a recent time window. If a show's listeners skew towards another platform, or another country where Apple's app is less dominant, then they won't perform so well in the charts.
Rephonic collects these Apple chart rankings and makes them available for free. Here's an example for The Daily (scroll down to "Apple Podcasts Charts", if it's missing then that show is not ranking at all).
Spotify and Google Podcasts maintain their own charts too, but these are less comprehensive.
4. Investigate stats revealed by some podcast apps
There's no official way to see a podcast's global number of listeners across every app, but a few of the smaller podcast apps have analytics about their own users.
For example if you go to the Castbox listing for The Daily you can see that it reveals how many Castbox users have subscribed to that show and how many times its episodes have been streamed on their app. Note that Castbox represents roughly 2% of podcast listeners.
These numbers give you a clue as to the size of a show's audience. One way to use them is by comparing the stats between shows on the same platform.
Other apps to check for similar metrics are Podcast Addict and TuneIn.
Apps such as Spotify and Apple Podcasts have no way for the public to see how many listeners or streams a show has. Only the podcast host or publisher has access to these stats.
5. Check social media presence
Checking a podcast's social media accounts can tell you something about their listenership figures and how engaged their listeners are.
Usually you can go to the podcast's official website (listed in most podcast listening apps) to find links to their social media accounts.
Check out their Facebook page or Instagram feed. Are they active on Twitter? How many followers do the hosts have? Can you see a lot of positive listener engagement can you see on these accounts?
If you're after the number of podcast views, you can do a quick search on YouTube and scroll through their videos to get an idea of how many views each episode has. Rephonic provides the total number of YouTube views for each podcast on its database.
6. Ask the publisher directly
To find out the most accurate podcast stats, you need to go to the source. That means contacting the host, owner or publisher. It can be tricky to find podcast email addresses, which is why we've written a guide to help you out.
Once you've sent your email, there's no guarantee that they'll get back to you. But the likelihood depends on your intent. If you're looking to spend money on sponsoring a show then you may get a quick reply! On the other hand, if you're looking to research your competitors before you launch your own podcast, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
Watch out for publishers giving you their all-time number of downloads, i.e. the number of times all combined episodes have been downloaded since the podcast has started. It may sound impressive, but it doesn't tell you a lot about how many listeners they're currently pulling per episode.
🎙️ Is it possible to check how many downloads a podcast has?
Finding podcast download numbers is a common approach you might use to make decisions about which shows to reach out to.
Unfortunately, these numbers are somewhat misunderstood in the world of podcasting.
Only the podcasters have access to their download stats. As a listener, you can’t conveniently locate them on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio or any other podcast listening platform.
But even the podcasters find it tricky to know their numbers because podcasts are a decentralized medium. Put simply, that means that people can download and listen to a podcast on a range of devices from mobiles to laptops and even smart speakers. They can also listen to episodes on a whole range of apps and platforms.
Listeners can choose to subscribe and automatically download every episode, or download it on the go, which is known as user-initiated episodes. However, download numbers don’t tell you when they listened to the episode or if they even listened at all.
That's why Rephonic gives you listener per episode numbers instead of downloads, to provide a more accurate idea of the size of an individual podcast’s audience.
📈 Is it possible to see how many subscribers a podcast has?
Podcast subscriber numbers are often used as a guide to understanding the popularity of a podcast.
However, finding the podcast subscriber count is notoriously difficult, for the same reason that it’s difficult to find the number of listeners and downloads. Podcast distribution is decentralized - in other words, there are many different places you can listen to episodes and subscribe to shows.
This is how podcasts become available:
And therein lies the problem when it comes to finding out podcast subscriber numbers.
There are piles of platforms out there. Spotify, Apple podcasts, and iHeartRadio are three of the largest, but there are many smaller players too.
Buzzsprout lists at least 39 different podcast apps in its Definitive Podcast Directory List for 2021.
All that makes it almost impossible to see how many subscribers a podcast has. Also, those numbers also don't tell you how many people actually listen versus the numbers who subscribe but don't get around to it.
Instead, you can see the estimated podcast listener numbers by podcast on Rephonic's database.
The easiest way to look up podcast stats is with Rephonic. For any podcast, see how many listeners it has, its chart rankings, social followers, engagement score, ratings and more so you don’t have to waste valuable time searching the web.
If you're looking for podcasts to pitch as a potential guest or sponsor, Rephonic is a great way to find the right shows in any topic or niche and quickly find the best email address to contact them with.