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Podtrac Says iHeart Remained Top Publisher In December.

The iHeartPodcast Network remained the biggest podcast publisher in December among the entities measured by Podtrac. With a portfolio of more than five hundred podcasts, iHeart had 26.8 million unique listeners in the U.S. last month, with more than 243 million streams and downloads. That was a small dip from a month earlier, as the Christmas and New Year’s holidays brought the traditional disruption in regular listening patterns. It was the third consecutive month that iHeart was on top. After spending much of 2020 in a back and forth with NPR, the gap between the two has grown in recent months.

NPR remains a strong second. Podtrac says it had 20 million unique listeners in the U.S. last month, with nearly 193 million streams and downloads. As has been the case for the past several years the two radio powerhouses – one commercial, the other noncommercial – have enjoyed a sizable lead on the other publishers measured by Podtrac.

The popular The Daily podcast has continued to propel the New York Times to a third-place finish despite having fewer shows under its banner than any other publisher in the top ten. As campaign season faded, like iHeart and NPR, the Times had fewer downloads last month. Wondery remained in fourth place, while PRX returned to the top five. As a result, ESPN/ABC slid back to sixth place, while Barstool Sports remained at No. 7. The heavy portfolio of news and talk podcasts gave Cumulus Media/Westwood One a boost in November, as it moved up to eighth place. But like other publishers, the election buzz has faded, and it fell back to No. 10 allowing WarnerMedia and NBC News to move up.

Just two of the top 20 podcast publishers measured by Podtrac – NBC News and Barstool Sports – had an increase in their U.S. global download numbers in December. In line with year-end traffic trends, Podtrac reports all the top 20 publishers had a decrease in their U.S. monthly audience in December compared to November.

Among the top ten publishers, the average U.S. unique monthly audience was down 13% month-over-month. In terms of downloads, the top ten publishers had an average 7% decline between November and December, reflecting the holiday listening trends.

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