July showed iHeartRadio remained at the at the top of Podtrac’s monthly ranking of the top publishers it measures during July. It said iHeart had a reach of 30.3 million last month with nearly 229 million downloads. NPR ranked second with a unique U.S. monthly audience of 19.5 million and downloads that added up to nearly 148 million.
It was the tenth consecutive month that Podcast reported iHeart was the biggest publisher. Speaking on a conference call with analysts Thursday, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman said as their reach grows it begins to fuel future success. “We’re beginning to get the flywheel effect of this success with our audiences,” he explained. “The more successful podcasts we have with large audiences, the more effectively we're able to promote new podcasts and new episodes, helping to drive engagement and success for creators and advertisers.”
Yet hanging over the monthly update is a glitch in Apple Podcasts that, although now fixed, impacted download figures across the industry during July. Podtrac says the “download bug” led to “depressed” numbers for most publishers. Among the top 20, only four publishers measured by Podtrac had an increase in their global download numbers during July. And just two saw an increase in their unique U.S. monthly audience last month.
Apple last month released the latest update to its operating system that addressed what the company conceded was a glitch that had prevented automatic downloads for new episodes from completely downloading in the background. Apple said that while it did not impact listening, it likely reduced downloads reported by third-party hosting providers.
That prediction came true as Podtrac said the average U.S. unique monthly audience for the top 20 publishers in measures was down six percent month-over-month during July. And it was down seven percent compared to July 2020.
Podtrac last month released an analysis of its June data, which was also impacted by Apple Podcast problems. It concluded after a deeper analysis and adjustments that absolute downloads for June would have grown by five percent compared to a year earlier. That would have put the month in line with the average it has seen for the first five months of the year.