The 2022 holiday season, the most similar to pre-pandemic life so far, delivered an expected decline in listening and downloads last month. Podtrac says none of the top 20 publishers saw their audiences grow month-to-month, as each either lost ground or were flat with a month earlier. But the long-term story was one of growth. Even as holiday parties and travel took another step toward normalcy, podcasters experienced gains in both audience size and downloads versus a year ago. Podtrac says among its top 20, the size of its unique U.S. monthly audience grew 11% while downloads were up two percent.
Podtrac says iHeartPodcasts continues to have the biggest reach with downloads and streams topping 369 million and an audience of more than 30.4 million unique listeners in the U.S. Wondery ranked second, with 160.6 million downloads and 22.5 million listeners. NPR, NBC News and the New York Times rounded out the top five. Podtrac also reports that the Fox Audio Network moved into the top ten for the first time with 53.7 million downloads and an audience of 5.3 million. Slate also returned to the ranker at No. 20 as TED slid off the list.
Podtrac’s monthly ranking of ad sales networks shows the Wondery Sales Network again topped the list with a total reach of 24.9 million listeners in the U.S. during December. That includes podcasts they represent on their Art19 platform. Wondery was followed by Acast, which had more than 21.8 million unique U.S. listeners. Libsyn’s AdvertiseCast held onto third place with more than 11 million listeners, followed by PodcastOne Sales Network with 5.3 million.
Overall, Podtrac reports the average top 20 publisher had a nine percent month-over-month decrease in their U.S. unique monthly audience during December. But compared to a year earlier, last month’s unique reach for the top 20 publishers was up 11% versus December 2022.
In terms of downloads, Podtrac says global downloads for the top 20 publishers overall declined 11% month-to-month during December, in part due to lower holiday listening. Yet they were still up two percent compared to the download numbers from a year earlier.