iHeartRadio and NPR demonstrate key network strategies (Podtrac Top Publishers)

In the December 2020 Top Podcast Publishers report from Podtrac, iHeartRadio held the #1 slot and NPR maintained its #2 ranking — those two networks remaining invulnerable to competitive infringement in the entire history of Podtrac’s ranking. (Only Podtrac measurement clients are ranked.)

As we have noted before, iHR and NPR pursue opposite audience concentration strategies. NPR keeps its network small (48 active shows) compared to its radio scale, and iHeartRadio maintains a huge podcast portfolio (525, nearly five times bigger than the second biggest in Podtrac, WarnerMedia).

Furthermore, a glance backward shows that each of these two juggernauts has doubled down strategically in this regard. In a year-over-year view (comparing to December 2019), NPR’s lineup has reduced from 70 to 48 active shows. iHeartradio has stretched out from 349 to 525 shows (via acquisition and robust show development).

Here we see how these strategies have played out month-over-month, a six-month view, and year-over-year:

The most revealing metric in this view is U.S. Unique Monthly Audience (by which the list is ranked) divided by number of shows — it gives us an average audience reach per show. Here’s how that works out, illustrating a dramatic difference in average U.S. per-show audience:


Brad Hill