The iHeartPodcast Network remained the top podcast publisher in May, according to Podtrac. The latest rankings reveal iHeart not only had a larger U.S. reach than any other publisher Podtrac tracks, but last month it also had more streams and downloads than any other company. A month earlier NPR had held that title. Now iHeart is firmly in first place, followed by NPR. Both showed increases in reach and downloads in May compared with a month earlier as consumer media habits continue to return to normal in the COVID-19 era.
Podtrac says iHeart reached nearly 25 million listeners in the U.S. during May, an 11% increase from April. Additionally, iHeart’s downloads topped 216 million, an 8% gain from the prior month. The figures for May represent all-time highs in both unique U.S. listeners and downloads for iHeart, and it was also the first time that it had more of both than NPR. In the past, including most recently for April, it had been a split decision, with the iHeartPodcast Network having a larger audience, while NPR had more downloads.
Even though NPR slid back to second place, it too has a growth story to tell. NPR’s reach was almost 24 million, a 10% month-to-month increase, with just under 209 million downloads, a 3% rise.
News-craving consumers and The Daily podcast helped keep The New York Times in third place during May, followed by PRX in fourth. Barstool Sports pushed Wondery out of the top five, as a headline-grabbing host dispute that erupted over its Call Her Daddy podcast helped the network make up for a lack of sports to talk about.
Wondery remained in sixth place, but that’s down from a third-place finish it typically held six months ago as the studio’s download growth slowed to just 2% during the period. The remainder of the top ten remained the same, with the list rounded out by NBC News, Westwood One, Kast Media and WNYC Studios.
Podtrac says the average unique monthly audience for the top 10 publishers increased by 15% from April at the low point of COVID-19 impacted listening. And it increased by a more substantial 22% from a year ago. Downloads were also up: Among the top 10 publishers, May downloads increased an average of 7% compared with April. And they were up 52% year over year.
Podtrac says all but one of the top 20 publishers saw an increase in U.S. monthly audience in May over April – Fox News Radio’s audience slid 1%. And all but two top 20 publishers saw positive growth in their download numbers – Fox News Radio’s downloads were flat while Slate’s downloads declined 14% during May.