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Post-Holiday Bounce Back Continues As Downloads Jump 22%, Driven By Sports Listening.

Post-holiday podcast downloads jumped 22% last week as the seasonal impact on normal media consumption patterns continues to fade. Podtrac reports the second consecutive week of double-digit gains in downloads for Jan.3-9 among the publishers it measures. That is on par with the rise it reported a week ago. On a year-over-year basis, Podtrac also says that downloads were up 23% last week among its lineup of publishers.

The latest weekly growth numbers represent a quick turnaround from the 13% drop during Christmas week and a three percent decline during the week that included the New Year’s holiday.

What is different this year versus a year ago is the category that is leading the way out of the holiday dip. While it was News series that was responsible for the bounce back last year, this year it is Sports. Podtrac says the Sports genre had a robust 37% increase in downloads week-over-week. And compared to a year ago, downloads were more than double -- up 111% largely thanks to interest in the NFL season.

Other genres also had double-digit increases week-to-week, include True Crime (+28%), News (+27%), Religion & Spirituality (+24%), Business (+22%), and Comedy (+18%). Also posting gains were genres including Arts (+9%), History (+4%), and Science (+3%).

Podtrac previously announced that iHeartRadio led its December rankings. It reported iHeartRadio saw a 16% increase in its downloads during December as it remained in the lead of Podtrac’s monthly ranking of top publishers. Podtrac says iHeartRadio had nearly 392 million global downloads and streams last month. And iHeart’s U.S. monthly unique audience was just shy of 32 million. The ranking not only closed out 2021 on a high note for iHeart but it also marked 15 consecutive months that it has led the ranking of publishers measured by Podtrac.

NPR finished second, followed by Wondery, The New York Times, and NBC News.

Overall, Podtrac reports the average publisher had a five percent month-over-month decrease in their U.S. unique monthly audience during December in part due to the Christmas holiday effecting normal listening patterns. The bright spot is that compared to a year earlier, December 2021’s unique reach for the top 20 publishers was up 20% versus December 2020.

In terms of downloads, Podtrac says global downloads for the top 20 publishers overall were up nine percent month-over-month during December. They were also up 19% with the download numbers from a year earlier.

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