February may have brought some soft download numbers, but the podcast industry bounced back in March according to new Podtrac data. It says all but two of the top 20 publishers it measures had an increase in their monthly audience in March compared to February.
Podtrac says iHeartRadio had the biggest audience and most streams and downloads of any of the publishers it measures during March, as iHeart held on to the top stop for a sixth consecutive month. It said iHeartRadio had a unique U.S. audience of more than 30 million listeners, a 19% month-to-month increase, and downloads and streams that topped 257 million, a 13% increase.
NPR remained in second. Podtrac says it had more than 22 million unique listeners in the U.S. last month as its portfolio of podcasts had nearly 187 million downloads – both 5% increases from February – as the big radio operations – one commercial, the other noncommercial – held a sizable lead over the other publishers measured by Podtrac.
The New York Times remained in third place with a unique U.S. audience of about 11.5 million, or a 14% increase from February. Wondery held onto fourth place with an 8.5 million audience, up 4% month-to-month. And PRX returned to the top five with a reach of nearly 7.8 million in the U.S., up 6% from a month earlier.
The biggest mover among the top ten podcast publishers was Barstool Sports which fell from No. 5 in February to No. 7 in March. It was one of the two publishers that had declines in March with a 4% decline in its unique U.S. audience and a 10% drop in global streams and downloads.
The other publisher to have a month-to-month drop was Shankar Vedantam’s self-published podcast Hidden Brain. Its unique U.S. audience was 1.9 million March, a 7% decline from a month earlier, with 9.5 million downloads during the month, a 6% drop.
Eighteen of the top 20 podcast publishers measured by Podtrac had month-to-month increases in their U.S. monthly audience during March. Among the top 20, downloads were up an average of 11% between February and March although downloads were flat last month compared to a year ago.
Podtrac also reports that among the top ten publishers, their U.S. monthly audience during March was also up an average of 11% between February and March with a 4% gain over March 2020.