One year after the pandemic brought some sudden changes in media consumption habits, including some dips in downloads for some publishers, the latest Podtrac data shows how a year later the story for the industry is much different. Podtrac says downloads for the shows and publishers it measures were up eight percent last week (March 23-28) compared to a year ago. And many of the medium’s biggest categories had double digit year-over-year growth.
True Crime downloads soared 54%, Comedy podcast downloads jumped 30% and the Sports category was up 13%. At the same time the News genre, which saw big gains during the pandemic, was flat versus the same week a year ago. Business podcast downloads were down 12% and Science was off 12% compared to last year.
Podtrac released eleven weekly updates last spring to help the industry sort through the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The low point was the week of April 13-19 after which the numbers began to climb again. Here’s a look at how the download numbers tracked –
The fast-growth nature of podcast generally means week-to-week comparisons are often a better way to track downloads. Podtrac says there is good news here as well. Downloads were up last week four percent from a week earlier.
The Society & Culture category showed the strongest growth week-over-week at +11%. Also in the growth column were Sports (+9%), Arts (+9%), True Crime (+7%), Science (+7%), History (+4%), Comedy (+2%), and Education (+1%). Podtrac says both the News and Business categories saw a one percent dip in their downloads last week.
Week-over-week download growth for the week of March 22, 2021 to March 28, 2021 was +9% for Arts, -1% for Business, +2% for Comedy, +1% for Education, +4% for History, -1% for News, +6% for Science, +9% for Sports, and +7% for True Crime.
Podtrac earlier reported that iHeartRadio had the biggest audience and most streams and downloads of any of the publishers it measures during February. NPR remained in second, followed by the New York Times.
Four of the top 20 podcast publishers measured by Podtrac had month-to-month increases in their U.S. monthly audience in February. Among the top 20, downloads were decreased an average 13% between January and February although downloads were up two percent compared to a year earlier.