What’s The Success Secrets Of True Crime Hits? Analysis Lays Out Some Clues.

True Crime remains one of podcasting’s hottest genres, and it is seen by many as one of the primary ways that people are introduced to the medium. Not surprisingly, lots of lawyers have said they enjoy the shows. But the team at the law firm CaseFleet has proven itself to be a super-fan of True Crime. It has completed an analysis of four of the biggest shows in the genre – My Favorite Murder, Criminal, Crime Junkie, and Sword and Scale – to see what the four podcasts have in common and how they differ. The firm examined shows through May 18 and shared its findings with Podcast News Daily.

Each of the four podcasts had produced more than 115 episodes at the time of the review. And while America, sadly, has no shortage of crime stories to tell, not all have the notoriety that podcasters rely on to attract downloads. The result is overlap. CaseFleet says 30 different crime stories were featured on at least two of the four podcasts it looked at.

The strongest overlap occurred between My Favorite Murder and Crime Junkie with 16 different stories being featured on both podcasts, the firm said. In fact, My Favorite Murder shared at least five stories with every other podcast. 

“No stories were covered on all four podcasts, but the disappearance of Johnny Gosch has been featured in episodes of My Favorite Murder, Criminal, and Sword And Scale, making it the only true-crime tale to make it onto three of the shows in our analysis,” said CaseFleet CEO Jeff Kerr. Gosch was a 12-year old paperboy who disappeared near his Des Moines home in 1982.

Of the more than six hundred podcasts reviewed, more recent stories dominated. CaseFleet found that nearly one-third of all episodes featured an unsolved case, while stories featuring serial killers make up less than one in five episodes across the four podcasts. “Given the outsize role serial killers have in general pop culture discussions of true crime, it was interesting to see that for every serial killer podcast episode these shows produced four that weren’t about serial murder,” said Kerr.

The True Crime genre has been especially popular among women and CaseFleet’s analysis found, among the suspects featured in the shows it reviewed, the vast majority -- 82% -- featured crimes committed by men.

CaseFleet also released some of its findings about each of the four podcasts. When it comes to My Favorite Murder, the review showed hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are all about the eighties. Just under 70% of the time the stories their show featured dated back to that decade. For the three other podcasts, fewer than half of their stories were that old.

Criminal, hosted by Phoebe Judge, earned praise from Kerr for an ability to cover both a specific crime while exploring larger criminal justice issues. Among the shows reviewed by CaseFleet, he said one in five Criminal episodes explored topics such as how police handle transgender suspects, what life is like in minimum-security prison, and how crime is covered in the media. Even more noteworthy is 36% of the stories featured on Criminal did not include a traditional suspect of any kind.

For fans of suspects, the Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat-hosted Crime Junkie have more of those than convicts. That is because the review showed 55% of their podcast episodes featured unsolved cases. As Kerr pointed out, that means listeners are often left without closure regarding the story they just heard. When a suspect is named, the review found 95% of them are men, the highest percentage of any podcast in its analysis. Also, Crime Junkie features stories about missing persons nearly 30% of the time, the highest rate of any of the four podcasts. Kerr said that could be why so many of their shows are unsolved.

Sword and Scale, hosted by Mike Boudet, has a more “intense” vibe compared to the other shows said Kerr in a blog post, as the series frequently features real-life audio from 911 calls, jailhouse interrogations, and courtroom proceedings. CaseFleet’s review found Sword and Scale is the podcast among the four that is most focused on telling stories with a firm ending. It said fewer than 5% of episodes featured an unsolved case, the lowest rate of any of the four. It was also the podcast with the greatest emphasis on the recent past, with more than half of the 129 episodes reviewed featuring crimes committed during the past decade. 

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