March was a solid month for podcasting as Podtrac reports among the top 20 publishers it measures downloads grew 13% percent from February, with year-to-year download numbers jumping 50% compared to a year ago. Against that backdrop, iHeartRadio remained its top publisher with more than 443 million downloads and streams -- a three percent month-to-month increase and a new high for iHeart. Podtrac says iHeart’s total unique audience topped 33.4 million, roughly on par with a month earlier.
Second place finisher NPR had an even bigger month-to-month jump in its download numbers, which increased 16% to 184.6 million. Third place Wondery posted a 21% increase in its downloads. Downloads for New York Times-produced shows were up 22% while at No. 5, NBC News had a 21% increase in its download numbers month-to-month. That was enough for NBC to knock the Walt Disney Company back to No. 6 as its download total slid three percent. Disney includes podcasts for ABC News and ESPN, among other brands in its portfolio.
The remainder of the top ten remained the same in March as in February, with Daily Wire, PodcastOne, Barstool Sports and PRX each in their same position albeit with more downloads last month than in the prior month.
The breaking news of war in Ukraine presumably helped both Fox News and CNN post month-to-month growth numbers. The Fox Audio Network advanced one to No. 11 as its download numbers jumped 43% in March compared to February. CNN also moved up one to No. 13 with a 27% increase in its monthly downloads.
The latest update also shows that the big drop reported for the Cumulus Podcast Network in February was not a fluke. Podtrac says it was once again No. 18 on its list. It had a nine percent jump in downloads last month however, with nearly 31 million downloads to shows on the Cumulus Podcast Network.
The BBC, which debuted at No. 20 in February, held onto that position again in March. But its unique U.S. audience declined 11% month-to-month to 2.7 million. The public broadcaster also continues to hide how many downloads it has worldwide.
Overall, Podtrac reports the average publisher had a three percent month-over-month increase in their U.S. unique monthly audience last month. And compared to a year earlier, March 2022’s unique reach for the top 20 publishers was up 22% versus March 2021.
Podtrac also reports 15 of the top 20 publishers posted an increase in their unique monthly U.S. audience in March compared to February – the rest were either down or flat.
In terms of downloads, Podtrac says global downloads for the top 20 publishers overall were up 13% month-over-month during March. And they grew 50% compared to the download numbers from a year earlier.