Controversy paid off for a pair of podcasts during May, even as a trio of news podcasts remained the most listened-to shows. Podtrac says Barstool Sports’ Call Her Daddy was the fourth-biggest podcast last month, despite releasing no new episodes. Instead, it benefited from headlines over the fate of the show and the ultimate decision of Sofia Franklyn to leave the podcast she hosted with Alexandra Cooper. Controversy of a political sort also returned iHeartMedia’s The Breakfast Club to the Podtrac ranker. The 18-minute interview it conducted with former Vice President Joe Biden during which he said, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black” sent many to their computers to download the on-demand version of the morning radio show. Always on the cusp of the top 20, The Breakfast Club moved up three positions to No. 18 last month.
The top of the Podtrac ranker was uncontroversial, however, as the top three podcasts remained the same. The New York Times-produced The Daily remained in the top spot for the 19th consecutive month during May. It was followed by NPR’s hourly five-minute podcast NPR News Now and the NPR-produced Up First. The iHeartPodcast Network-produced Stuff You Should Know rounded out the top five.
Podtrac reported last week that News category shows remained strong in May. But the monthly report also shows listeners have quickly cooled to COVID-19-related podcasts. CNN Audio’s Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction went from being the highest debuting show during March to the biggest decliner in April. In May it dropped off the top 20 altogether. At the same time escapism seekers helped keep iHeart’s The Ron Burgundy Podcast in the top 20. There was also a signal that True Crime genre shows are making a comeback as the NBC News-produced Dateline NBC podcast moved up to No. 8.
Here are the top 20 podcasts for May:
The iHeartPodcast Network remained the top podcast publisher in May, according to Podtrac data release earlier this month. It said iHeart not only had a larger U.S. reach than any other publisher it tracks, but last month it also had more streams and downloads than any other company. A month earlier NPR held that title. Now iHeart is firmly in first place, followed by NPR. Both publishers had increases in reach and downloads in May compared with a month earlier as consumer media habits return to some semblance of normal in the COVID-19 era.
Podtrac also said the average unique monthly audience for the top 10 publishers increased by 15% from April at the low point of COVID-19-impacted listening. In terms of downloads, those were up too. Among the top 10 publishers, May downloads increased an average of 7% compared with April.