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Podcast Success? Rephonic Analysis Points To Episode Length As A Factor.

Thanks in part to a growing emphasis on daily shows, a new analysis shows that podcast episode length continues to shrink. A new analysis from the podcast database Rephonic finds the average top-performing podcast releases one 37-minute episode every five days. And there are fewer podcasts with episodes clocking in at more than an hour.

Rephonic examined data that it collects across 2.5 million podcasts and while more than one in five podcasts were over 60-minutes in 2013, during the past nine years that number has trended lower. Last year 17% of episodes published were longer than an hour according to its analysis.

Not only is the frequency of a release a factor, but Rephonic says that there are a lot more indie shows being produced today and they frequently do not have the time or budget to produce long episodes.

Another factor that may be in play with the shortening episode length is that a lot of shows that are successful– which Rephonic defines as having more than 10,000 listeners per episode – offer shorter episodes. Among podcasts that meet that definition, it says they release episodes that average 37 minutes in length.

There are variances by genre however, showing the shorter-is-better rule is not cast in stone. Rephonic says the average episode length across all podcasts in the Fiction category is a half hour while Fiction podcasts with more than 10,000 listeners per episode this jumps up to 52 minutes.

That compares to Leisure podcasts where shows with more than 10,000 listeners have an average episode of 36 minutes compared to an average of 46 minutes for al shows within the category.

An earlier Rephonic analysis released in July found that for podcasts with guests, Rephonic says the average episode length was 44 minutes. That is eight minutes longer than the average across all podcasts.

Rephonic’s analysis also points to cadence of show release being a factor in success. The average episode release frequency of top-performing shows is 5.3 days, but similar to episode length publication figures varies from category to category.

The analysis shows podcasts in the News genre release episodes most frequently -- once every three days on average. Yet the top podcasts in the History category release new episodes on average once every nine days.

The data may entice some producers to change their production habits. But Rephonic says a 37- minute episode every five days isn’t going to be the right balance for all podcasters.

“The length of your podcast and its release frequency should depend on the genre, niche, target audience, your availability, and how much great content you have,” it says in a blog post.

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