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Podcast Downloads Rose In July; Podtrac Says iHeart Remained Top Publisher.

The July Fourth holiday and summer listening habits resulted in a mixed month for podcasters measured by Podtrac. It says total listeners were down from June, although those that turned up listened more as downloads rose three percent from a month earlier. Both metrics were up seven percent year-over-year among the publishers it measures.

On top once again was iHeartMedia, which Podtrac says had more than 427 million downloads and streams during July with a unique monthly audience of nearly 30 million. Heft worked in iHeart’s favor. It had 678 active shows last month, more than triple the portfolio of its closest competitor.

“Publishing is by far the most profitable segment of the podcasting industry. And that's the reason it remains our focus,” iHeart CEO Bob Pittman said during his company’s quarterly conference call with analysts on Thursday. “That being said, not all podcast publishers are created equal. And we believe the fact that our podcast margin is accretive to our overall company margin is evidence of the success of our strategy to partner with creators to build our own podcast, as opposed to buying content creators. And as the largest podcasting publisher in the US with the widest range of and highest ranked content as measured by Podtrac, we believe our experience and capabilities as audio content creators, combined with our unique ability to promote and build audiences for our podcast, utilizing our broadcast radio assets that uniquely reach 90% of US consumers gives us an important edge. And as a result, we believe we will continue to take share in this growing marketplace.”

The monthly update from Podtrac also shows that Wondery’s move ahead of NPR was not a fluke, although the gap between No. 2 Wondery and No. 3 NPR closed somewhat. Wondery had 177 million downloads versus 160 million for NPR. Wondery led on unique reach too, 21 million versus 17 million.

The remainder of the top ten also remained the same.

Podtrac says just two publishers in its top 20 had gains in their unique monthly audience in July. No. 8 PodcastOne’s reach rose from 6,135,000 in June to 6,148,000 in July.

WNYC Studios was the other gainer. Its unique monthly audience rose eight percent month-to-month to just over four million listeners. It helped push WNYC Studios up two spots on the ranker to No. 13.

Overall, Podtrac reports the average top 20 publisher had a three percent month-over-month decrease in their U.S. unique monthly audience last month. But compared to a year earlier, July 2022’s unique reach for the top 20 publishers was up seven percent versus July 2021.

Podtrac also reports two of the top 20 publishers posted an increase in their unique monthly U.S. audience in July compared to June – the rest were either down or flat.

In terms of downloads, Podtrac says global downloads for the top 20 publishers overall increased three percent month-over-month during July. They were also up seven percent compared to the download numbers from a year earlier.

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