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How many downloads make a successful podcast?

By Marissa Barnes

A chart on a table showing the metrics of a podcast.Before we dive into what makes a podcast successful, let's briefly define what exactly a podcast is. These are popular audio essays that cover anything from current events to hobbies, history, and more. If you need information or advice on just about anything, odds are, there’s a podcast for you. 


It’s no secret podcasts are one of the most rapidly growing industries in the world. Everyone is trying to build their own podcast and figure out what it takes to host a successful podcast. But do people looking to get into the business know what it really takes to be a successful podcast?



According to SmallBizGenius, about 32% of Americans listen to a podcast at least once a month, and at least half of the population over the age of 12 have listened to at least one in their lifetime. 


In 2019, it was estimated that there were more than 750,000 active podcasts. This accounts for almost 30 million episodes across all platforms. It’s important to learn what your podcast can do differently and how it’s going to stand out among the others. 


The most successful podcast ever had around 50,000 total downloads across multiple streaming platforms in only 30 days. In order to make it into the top 5% of podcasts, the show has to earn around 9,000 downloads. However, 3,400 total downloads will still land you in the top 10%. Not a bad place to be. 


The tricky part about podcasting is most of the revenue comes from advertising. Podcast shows rely on sponsorships, donations, and marketing on top of listener support. It’s important to have people tuning in every week as well as strong sponsorships to back it up. 


If you’re thinking about starting your own podcast, maybe you should test drive one first. Start with being a guest on a podcast to get an idea of the inner workings. If you need help finding the right opportunities, Axia can help you get on podcasts relevant to your industry.


Marissa is currently a rising senior at Michigan State University studying advertising, management, and public relations. She is an aspiring PR professional who is enthusiastic and knowledgeable in multiple areas of PR.


Photo 91018905 © Bannasak | Dreamstime.com

Topics: online public relations, podcast

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