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Podtrac’s Final COVID-19 Update: Weekly Downloads Up 31% Since Jan. 1.

Podcast downloads and U.S. weekly audience reach both dipped four percent last week, but a case could be made that it’s a good thing. How’s that? The Memorial Day weekend holiday led to the drop, since holidays typically impact media consumption. So, in a year where very little seems routine, the final Podtrac update on podcasting trends during the coronavirus pandemic offers a bit of normalcy.

After five weeks of either growth or unchanged weekly indicators, Podtrac says that for the week of May 25-31 downloads and audience declined compared with the previous week due to fewer streams and downloads on Memorial Day. But it also reports that weekly downloads since the first week of January are up 31% and weekly audience is up 13% through the week ending May 31 across all Podtrac-measured podcasts. It also points out that the average downloads per month for the Top 5 and Top 10 publishers have been higher each month in 2020 than any month in 2019.

Podtrac has released eleven weekly updates since March to help the industry sort through the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic. The latest report is the last it will make available to nonsubscribers to its service. “Since a low point the week of April 13-19, growth has been largely positive and on track for recovery,” it said in a blog post.

The data also shows some familiar trends in terms of when people are listening, likely driven by the reopening of some states after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down businesses and forced others to work from home. Podtrac says with the exception of Memorial Day, downloads during peak weekday commute times continue to trend up since a low point the week of April 13-19.

Podcast downloads during peak weekday morning commute times were down an average of 14% last week compared with the week of March 2-8 when the lockdowns took effect. Yet among Podtrac-measured shows, weekends continue to be strong listening times. The company says on Saturday, May 30 the peak hour was up 28%, and for Sunday, May 31 the peak hour was up 22%.

The podcast genres that showed the biggest audience growth last week included Comedy (+41%), News (+24%), Business (+14%) and Society & Culture (+11%), despite declines in download numbers from the prior week.

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