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April: News Podcasts Had Biggest Audience. Fiction, Science, True Crime Grew More.

What are people listening to during the coronavirus lockdowns? The Fiction, Science and True Crime categories each had a bump in April, according to the latest analysis of the publishers tracked by Podtrac. It says those three categories had the biggest audience increases between March and April. And while people have a lot of free time on their hands, ironically it was the Leisure show category that had the biggest month-to-month drop.

Overall, Podtrac says the five biggest show categories during April were News; Society & Culture; Comedy; Arts; and Business. The data shows iHeartRadio had the most shows (87) across the most categories (16), while NPR had the most No. 1 shows across categories (7). The April ranking covers 545 shows from 170 different publishers.

News had the largest average U.S. audience across Podtrac’s top five shows again in April, clocking in at 5.9 million. Yet each of the top five shows posted decreases in their month-to-month audience sizes, while at the same time each also saw gains compared with a year ago.

Among the News category’s biggest shows, Podtrac says the New York Times-produced The Daily was down 21% in April versus March, but its audience was still up 31% year-over-year. It’s a similar story for NPR’s hourly five-minute podcast NPR News Now, which posted a 21% decline from a month earlier but a 142% increase from last April. The NPR-produced Up First was third, with a 16% month-to-month drop and a 29% gain when compared with last year. The Daily Wire’s The Ben Shapiro Show stood out on the ranker for not only posting a 19% drop in its audience size during April, but a 16% drop versus a year earlier. Rounding out the top five was the on-demand version of Fox News Radio’s hourly newscast, which saw its audience shrink 5% during April when compared to the prior month, but it was up 67% from a year earlier. CNN Audio’s Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction fell out of the top five in April. Podtrac reported last week that the iHeartPodcast Network overtook NPR as the top podcast publisher during April. The report shows iHeart had a monthly unique U.S. audience of nearly 22.6 million compared to NPR’s 21.8 million. NPR still had a slight edge in terms of global downloads, although both companies again topped the 200 million threshold, which kept them well ahead of the other publishers measured by Podtrac. The New York Times remained in third place while PRX returned to No. 4 as it pushed Wondery back to fifth.

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