October was a month of treats, not tricks, for podcasters as listener and downloads grew and Podtrac says among the publishers it measures, 16 of the top 20 experienced gains compared to a month earlier. The top spot was again held by iHeartPodcasts which had a unique audience of more than 34 million in the U.S. and nearly 443 million downloads to the 725 shows under its umbrella.
During a conference call with analysts Thursday, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman talked up how well his company performs in the monthly Podtrac numbers, pointing out that its downloads are greater than that of the second and third largest publishers. “We continue to be the largest podcast publisher in the U.S. with the widest range of and highest ranked content as measured by Podtrac and we're the only publisher with ranked content in all 19 categories,” said Pittman. “Publishing is by far the most profitable segment of the podcasting industry and it remains our focus.”
Wondery was the second-largest publisher last month among those measured by Podtrac. Its unique U.S. audience inched up slightly to 22.7 million with downloads increasing two percent month-to-month to nearly 180 million.
NPR came in third with a two percent increase in its unique U.S audience and downloads that topped 192 million and a 16% jump in its total downloads.
Interest in news heading toward Election Day likely helped NPR, but that was not the case for the New York Times, which remained in fourth place. The Times saw its unique reach drop three percent month-to-month to 12 million while its downloads declined two percent to 192 million despite having one more show in its portfolio during October than in September.
Driven by a strong showing for its Dateline NBC podcast last month, the numbers grew for NBC News. Podtrac says its reach jumped 25% month-to-month to more than 11 million and its downloads increased 13% to more than 71 million.
Podtrac says the Walt Disney Company held onto six place last month with its portfolio of shows that includes podcasts released by ABC News and ESPN, while The Daily Wire again finished at No. 7.
PRX was the big gainer in the top ten, rising from No. 10 in September to No. 8 in October as its unique U.S. reach grew eight percent to 6.6 million and its downloads rose four percent to more than 65 million.
Barstool Sports slid back one to No. 9 last month, while Paramount advanced one spot as PodcastOne tumbled out of the top ten to No. 14 as its unique reach dropped 44% to 3.8 million and its total global downloads fell by a similar rate to 22.6 million.
Podtrac also released its second monthly update on the top podcast ad sales networks. The 383 shows that are part of the Wondery Sales Network again topped the list with a total reach of more than 25 million listeners in the U.S. during October. That includes podcasts they represent on their Art19 platform. Wondery was followed by Acast, which had more than 23 million unique U.S. listeners across its portfolio of 41,052 shows. Libsyn and PodcastOne’s ad sales networks remained third and fourth, the same as in September.
Overall, Podtrac reports the average top 20 publisher had a one percent month-over-month increase in their U.S. unique monthly audience during October. And compared to a year earlier, last month’s unique reach for the top 20 publishers was up 16% versus October 2022.
Podtrac also reports 16 of the top 20 publishers posted an increase in their unique monthly U.S. audience in October compared to September.
In terms of downloads, Podtrac says global downloads for the top 20 publishers overall grew three percent month-over-month during October. And they were up 31% compared to the download numbers from a year earlier.