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Podtrac: iHeart Stayed On Top In February As Fewer Days Meant Fewer Listeners Overall.

Three fewer days in February than January took its toll on Podtrac’s monthly report of podcast listening. Among the publishers it measures, just one of the top 20 – the New York Times – had an increase in its unique monthly audience last month. On average, the group had a five percent drop in its unique monthly audience in the U.S.

Podtrac says iHeartPodcasts remained the top publisher in February with a reach of just under 31 million unique listeners and downloads that topped 354 million. The remainder of the top five was also the same, with Wondery ranked second with 23.3 million listeners and 163 million downloads last month, followed by NPR, which despite having fewer unique listeners than Wondery – 18.5 million – had five million more downloads than Wondery. NPR had168 million downloads last month, according to Podtrac.

While other publishers gave up ground, the New York Times had an eight percent increase in its unique U.S. audience last month. The Times remained in fourth place with a reach of 11.3 million as NBC News held fifth place with 10.3 million listeners. The only real movement in the top ten came midway through, as The Daily Wire pulled ahead of the Walt Disney Company – the umbrella for podcasts released by ABC and ESPN.

While most publishers saw declines in their audience reach last month, Podtrac says the combined audience for the four sales networks it measures increased five percent even with fewer days in February than in January.

Podtrac’s monthly ranking of ad sales networks shows the Wondery Sales Network again topped the list with a total reach of 25.5 million during February, a six percent decrease month-to-month. That includes podcasts Wondery represents on its Art19 platform. Acast was second with 22.2 million unique U.S. listeners – a two percent increase compared to January.

But it was Libsyn’s AdvertiseCast that was responsible for the February jump. AdvertiseCast held onto third place with nearly 18 million listeners, but that number was up 41% from a month earlier. And the PodcastOne Sales Network had 4.3 million listeners, a 13% decline from January.

Overall, Podtrac reports the average top 20 publisher had a five percent month-over-month decline in their U.S. unique monthly audience during February. Compared to a year earlier, last month’s unique reach for the top 20 publishers was up one percent versus February 2022.

In terms of downloads, Podtrac says global downloads for the top 20 publishers overall declined eight percent month-to-month during February, in part due to the short month. Yet they were up three percent compared to the download numbers from a year earlier.

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