Podcasting is off to a strong start in 2022 based on the latest Podtrac data. It shows that year-to-year downloads were up 21% last week (Jan. 10-16) among the shows and publishers it measures. And coming off the double-digit post-holiday rebound -- downloads jumped 22% two weeks ago -- downloads were flat week-to-week.
The Sports genre continues to be on a tear as interest in sports rebounds from earlier in the pandemic when fans were distracted and even television ratings slumped. Podtrac says while Sports category podcast downloads did slide four percent week-to-week last week compared to a week earlier when college bowl games dominated sports headlines, they were nevertheless more than double (+114%) what they were a year ago.
But last week’s biggest winner came from the opposite end of the content spectrum. Podtrac says the biggest week-to-week increase in downloads came in the Arts category, which was up 10%. Gains also came in the Science (+6%), News (+3%), and Comedy (+2%) genres. Declines were logged for History (-8%), True Crime (-5%), and Business (-1%) while two categories -- Religion & Spirituality and Society & Culture -- were flat week-to-week.
Podtrac previously announced that iHeartRadio led its December rankings. It reported iHeartRadio saw a 16% increase in its downloads during December as it remained in the lead of Podtrac’s monthly ranking of top publishers. Podtrac says iHeartRadio had nearly 392 million global downloads and streams last month. And iHeart’s U.S. monthly unique audience was just shy of 32 million. The ranking not only closed out 2021 on a high note for iHeart but it also marked 15 consecutive months that it has led the ranking of publishers measured by Podtrac.
NPR finished second, followed by Wondery, The New York Times, and NBC News.
Overall, Podtrac reports the average publisher had a five percent month-over-month decrease in their U.S. unique monthly audience during December in part due to the Christmas holiday effecting normal listening patterns. The bright spot is that compared to a year earlier, December 2021’s unique reach for the top 20 publishers was up 20% versus December 2020.
In terms of downloads, Podtrac says global downloads for the top 20 publishers overall were up nine percent month-over-month during December. They were also up 19% with the download numbers from a year earlier.