As new podcasts leap, top podcasts remain the same (Stitcher app study)

In a newly released annual study from Stitcher, we learn that top podcasts remain mostly unchanged in an annual comparison, much as they do in the many monthly rankers we report. It is the case even in a year when podcast creation spiked during Covid. The research is called The Stitcher Podcasting Report 2021, which analyzes usage data within the Stitcher app. The report can be freely viewed HERE.

Two visuals illustrate unchanging success during industry growth in podcasting. First, the spike of new content:

The stability of top podcasts is illustrated below, where we can see that the top 5 shows are the same in 2019 and 2020, with the 4th and 5th positions flipped. In the top 20 shows of 2020, only three podcasts are new to that cohort: PodSave America, Criminal, and Office Ladies. Six podcasts are new to the top 25.

Stitcher notes differences between top podcasts ranked by number of listeners and top podcasts based on “favoriting.” Stitcher counts “favorites” as subscriptions in the Stitcher app (which can also be thought of as followers as the industry moves into a period of increasing paid subscriptions).

Interestingly, “favorited” shows differ substantially from top shows by audience size, and Stitcher breaks our top five lists by age group:

The break-out indicates that younger listeners go for comedy and talk shows, while older cohorts prioritize news and politics.

Stitcher also notes that This American Life is the most “favorited” show of all time for users listening for less than six months and more than two years.

The Stitcher Podcasting Report 2021also reveals 2020 trends related to new and longtime listeners, top podcasts by bingeing hours, gateway shows, mini-series popularity, and search data. Again, the entire report can be viewed HERE.


Brad Hill