The short and long tails of podcast reach: Top 100 reaches 60% of avid U.S. listeners (Edison)

In the latest edition of its Weekly Insights (HERE), Edison Research asks, “How many shows to reach the majority of podcast listeners in the U.S.?”

The answer is somewhere between 25 and 100 podcasts (see the graphic below). If those numbers seem surprisingly low, they demonstrate the powerful short tail of podcasting. A lot of audience reach is concentrated in a tiny subset of the entire creative catalog, measured in low-millions by Listen Notes and Podcast Index. (Some percentage of that number represents discontinued shows.)

The multiples of short and long tails are interesting. An advertiser can acquire a 45% reach across the top 25 podcasts. Then, to increase reach by 33%, the advertiser must buy four times as many podcast placements. From there, an advertiser must buy 5x as many shows to add 13% more reach.

Edison puts it concisely: “One has to buy more and more shows to achieve incremental reach.”

Edison also observes that a big chunk of audience reach — nineteen percent — is reached exclusively by small shows ranked 1,001 and higher. As Edison underlines this statistic: “19% = 17 million listeners that the top 1,000 podcasts do NOT reach.”

Brad Hill