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Podtrac Adds Sales Networks To Its Podcast Rankings. iHeart Remains Top Publisher.

PodcastNewsDaily reported the March podcast publisher rankings Monday, but a second look, and a little research, calls for a clarification. Podtrac, a key public ranker of shows and networks in podcasting, updated its monthly ranker in March so as to include not just podcast publishers, but also podcast sales networks, as well. The distinction can be meaningful: A sales network generally has the right to monetize third-party podcasts on a non-exclusive basis, while a publisher has a hand in the actual production and often ownership of a show, and can therefore distribute and monetize it exclusively. Due to this, one particular show's downloads may in fact be counted by several sales networks.

What is notably unchanged is the ranking of podcast publishers, with iHeartPodcasts still at No. 1 - and NPR and Wondery in positions two and three, respectively. In addition to publishers, the new Podtrac rankings now include the sales networks iHeartRadio Audience Network and also Acast, both of which are followed by an asterisk in the listing, to distinguish them from publishers.

In the U.S., the iHeartRadio Audience Network, the sales network that includes not only shows published by iHeartPodcasts but other companies too, is the new No. 1 overall. Among sales networks and publishers, with nearly 23,000 active shows, Podtrac says the network had 310 million downloads and streams in the U.S. during March, with 52.9 million unique listeners. iHeartPodcasts, the podcast publisher network from iHeartMedia, comes in at No. 2 overall in the ranking, with 193 million downloads and 31.8 million unique U.S. listeners.

At No. 3 overall, Acast, a sales network and not a publisher, was credited with nearly 85.7 million downloads and streams in the U.S. last month with 20.7 million unique listeners. 

The introduction of the two sales networks — the iHeartRadio Audience Network and Acast — pushed NPR back to fourth place overall in terms of audience size, although it had significantly more U.S. downloads than Acast — 113.7 million versus Acast’s 85.7 million. Wondery rounded out the top five.

Podtrac also released a second ranking for March for global rankings, with Acast at No. 1 with over 405 million downloads, streams and views combined. But it’s important to note, the iHeartRadio Audience Network and iHeartPodcasts don’t participate in the Podtrac global podcast publishers and networks chart. Sources say iHeart has over 500 million streams, downloads and views and would lead the global chart if they participated in the count.

After Acast, Lisbyn Ads reported 164.5 million global streams, downloads, and views, followed by DailyWire (70.3 million), Paramount (69.7 million) and Sonora Global Media Corp (64 million) rounding out the top five.

Overall, Podtrac says three of the top global networks had growth in their audio downloads and streams and YouTube views in March compared to February.

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