top of page

iHeart Remains Top Publisher As iOS Changes Cut Into Overall Podcast Numbers.

December brings holiday disruptions to regular media habits, and combined with the continued rollout of iOS 17 changes, podcasters are not getting as much to cheer in Podtrac’s monthly update as they normally would. Every publisher in the top 20 saw their unique monthly audience either hold steady or dip. Podtrac says global downloads for the top 20 were down 19% month-to-month in December, and they were down 24% versus a year earlier.

Podtrac says that was due largely to the Apple Podcast update focused on how automatic downloads are dealt with. Prior to the release of the iOS 17 operating system in September, when a listener would un-pause automatic downloads, the system would automatically download all un-played episodes. But now with the release of the new OS, Apple Podcasts will resume automatically downloading only the new episodes. And the previous episodes will not be downloaded at all. Apple Podcasts also says that when a podcaster publishes an older episode to their show, they will no longer present themselves as new. The changes came at the request of several podcast companies, which have said the resulting data will be more accurate.

It remains possible the download dip could grow bigger in January as more people update to iOS 17, which was released Sept. 18. Data from Mixpanel shows fewer than half of Apple devices have made the switch to date.

The across-the-board nature of the changes has meant that publisher rankings remain largely unchanged from where they were pre-update among those measured by Podtrac. Powered by 884 active shows, iHeartMedia easily held onto its spot as the No. 1 publisher in December with 252 million downloads and 29.8 million unique listeners.

Both Wondery and NPR have a claim to second place in December. In terms of audience, Wonder ranked second with 18.4 million unique listeners and 112.9 million downloads. But NPR had more downloads (129 million) with a total audience that was about 200,000 smaller than what Wondery had last month.

Fourth place New York Times and fifth place NBC News were also very tight when it came to audience size – about 20,000 separated the two – although the Times was a clear winner in terms of downloads. It had 63 million versus 51 million for NBC.

The biggest move came from the BBC, which had been No. 18 in November and fell out of the top 20 last month.

Overall, December’s unsettled data as the iOS 17 impact shakes out will make comparisons less useful in the near term as the impact of the changes ripple through the numbers in the coming months. 

Among Podtrac’s top 20, December’s average unique monthly audience was down 13% from November and down by the same percentage from a year earlier.

In terms of downloads, Podtrac says global downloads for the top 20 publishers overall were down 19% month-to-month during December, and they decreased 24% compared to a year earlier, due largely to modified download behavior by iOS 17.

Podtrac did not release its usual monthly ranking of the top sales networks for December. It says they continue to work with the sales networks and a new ranking will be released starting next month.

48 views0 comments


bottom of page