Post-holiday podcast downloads jumped 21% last week as the seasonal impact on normal media consumption patterns continues to fade quicker than normal in a pandemic-impacted 2021. Podtrac reports the second consecutive week of double-digit gains in downloads for Jan.4-10 among the publishers it measures after a 12% drop during Christmas week. The prior week, which included the New Year’s holiday, had seen a five percent increase in downloads.
It was not just the after-holiday return to podcasts that drove the weekly gains. Podtrac reports that compared to the first week of January a year ago, downloads were up 14% among the publishers it tracks.
The news has been especially dramatic and historic in recent days, and that drove listeners to News genre podcasts. Podtrac says downloads of News podcasts increased 48% compared to the prior week. But other podcast categories also had double-digit gains. Helped by the NFL Playoffs, downloads of Sports podcasts jumped 23% week-to-week. Business podcasts were up double-digits too – growing 14% -- while Education shows had an 11% gain in downloads.
Podtrac also says that Comedy podcasts were up 7% last week, while the Society & Culture, History, and True Crime genres all posted one percent gains week-to-week. Among the big genres, only Arts (-3%) and Science (-2%) had a down week.
Podtrac earlier reported that the iHeartPodcast Network remained the biggest podcast publisher in December among the entities it measured. 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. NPR was second, followed by the New York Times, Wondery and PRX.
All the top 20 publishers had a decrease in their U.S. monthly audience in December compared to November, according to Podtrac. 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.