"We have sampled over 10,000 podcast listeners to determine who they are, what shows they listen to, what they buy, and the demographic profiles for every leading network and top podcast," said Edison Research SVP Tom Webster. The result of that data collected continuously throughout 2020 is a list of the Top 50 Podcasts that survey participants report listening to last year.
Edison’s Podcast Consumer Tracker says Spotify’s The Joe Rogan Experience had the biggest audience of any podcast during 2020 among weekly podcast consumers aged 18 and older. The New York Times-produced daily news podcast The Daily ranked second, followed by Audiochuck’s Crime Junkie, This American Life, and Exactly Right Media’s My Favorite Murder. Overall, the year-end list includes more independent and self-produced series than those on other podcast rankers.
Because Edison’s data is based on consumer surveys it can put every podcast side by side regardless of whether it subscribes to the Podcast Consumer Tracker reports. The company does not release any specific audience numbers, however, making those available only to subscribers. The relative audience size of each podcast network is calculated and expressed as the percentage of weekly podcast listeners reached by that network.
“It is the only service based on actual listens, not downloads,” said Webster. “Existing measures of downloads are important. We aren't replacing that. But currently we have demographic data on all major networks, how they rank against each other, and credible estimates of network size calibrated by our ongoing work on The Infinite Dial research series, which remains the most widely-used audience data in the industry.”
Edison says half of the top 20 podcast publishers have subscribed to the Podcast Consumer Tracker reports. Those willing to say so publicly include Stitcher/Midroll, NPR, Wondery, ESPN/ABC/Disney and WarnerMedia.