Apple Names The Biggest Podcasts And Publishers -- Free And Subscription -- For 2021.


Apple Podcasts today released its year-end tally of the most popular new shows that launched this year in the U.S. Topping its list is We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle. Released by Doyle and Cadence13, the self-help and mental health series has found a place with audiences as people cope with the effects of the pandemic. Apple also released a list of the biggest publishers. Audiochuck, the New York Times and iHeartPodcast Network led the list among those offering free content. While Wondery and Luminary led among the pay offerings via Apple Podcast Subscriptions. And Three Uncanny Four’s true crime series Bad Blood: The Final Chapter was the top subscription show.


“2021 marked the start of a new chapter for podcasting with shows that moved us in ways unlike ever before,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s Vice President of Apple Music and Beats. “We are honored to recognize the phenomenal creators who are redefining podcasting with this year’s best shows, and to help more listeners around the world discover, enjoy, and support their inspiring work.”


Here are all of Apple’s TopPodcasts for 2021 --


Top New Shows

  1. We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle

  2. Mommy Doomsday with Keith Morrison from Dateline NBC

  3. The Apology Line with Marissa Bridge from Wondery

  4. Dr. Death Season 3: Miracle Man with Laura Beil from Wondery

  5. Murdaugh Murders with Mandy Matney

  6. O.C. Swingers with Justine Harman

  7. The Ezra Klein Show from New York Times Opinion

  8. Suspect with Eric Benson and Matthew Shaer from Wondery and Campside Media

  9. Dark History with Bailey Sarian

  10. Unraveled with Alexis Linkletter and Billy Jensen from Discovery+

Top Free Channels

  1. Audiochuck

  2. The New York Times

  3. iHeartPodcast Network

  4. Dateline NBC

  5. Barstool Sports

  6. ABC News

  7. ESPN

  8. Exactly Right

  9. Crooked Media

  10. TED Audio Collective

Top Subscriptions: Individual Shows

  1. Bad Blood: The Final Chapter with John Carreyrou

  2. The Just Enough Family with Ariel Levy

  3. U Up? with Jordana Abraham and Jared Freid

  4. Fresh Air with Terry Gross

  5. The Handoff with Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo

  6. How I Built This with Guy Raz

  7. Chameleon with Josh Dean, Vanessa Grigoriadis and Trevor Aaronson

  8. Diet Starts Tomorrow with Aleen Dreksler and Sami Sage

  9. Planet Money with Amanda Aronczyk, Erika Beras, Mary Childs, Jacob Goldstein, Sarah Gonzalez, Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi and Kenny Malone

  10. Swindled with A Concerned Citizen


Top Subscription Channels

  1. Wondery

  2. Luminary

  3. Sword and Scale

  4. Tenderfoot TV

  5. QCode

  6. Pushkin Industries

  7. Imperative Entertainment

  8. Radiotopia

  9. Realm

  10. The Athletic

Apple’s editorial team also selected A Slight Change of Plans with Maya Shankar from Pushkin Industries as Best Show of the Year and Anything for Selena with Maria Garcia from WBUR Boston and Futuro Studios as its Newcomer of the Year.


“These deeply personal yet universally relatable shows grapple with profound change, perceptions of identity and self-worth, and the meaning of belonging, with thought-provoking discussions that reflect the human experience,” Apple said in the announcement.


A Slight Change of Plans blends storytelling with the science of human behavior to feature stories about all sorts of change, from Tiffany Haddish discussing how she navigated the foster care system and discovered that she had a rare gift that would change her life, to John Elder Robison, who underwent experimental brain treatment to try and increase his emotional sensitivity.


“It’s easy for us to feel overwhelmed by any given change. I’ve often found myself thinking, ‘I’ve never gone through this particular change before — what do I do?’” Shankar said. “But while our changes may appear different on the surface, cognitive science teaches us that the strategies we use to navigate those changes can be quite similar. Which is heartening to realize! It means we can learn from changes that don’t look like ours.”


On Anything for Selena, journalist Maria Garcia ponders what it means to belong through her relationship with artist Selena Quintanilla.


“I loved Selena since I was 7 years old,” said Garcia. “I couldn’t articulate this when I was younger, but I felt a profound sense that she mattered — not just because of her music, but because of her expansive cultural impact.” She recorded the podcast during the summer of 2020 when the pandemic meant recording with a microphone and a MacBook in her walk-in closet. “We tried to make meaning of Selena’s life and legacy,” she said. “I wanted to write her a love letter, an ode, a beautiful story.”


Apple also recognized 10 shows and 10 episodes that its team says defined and reflected this year. See the list HERE.

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