On December 10, 2019, Apple Podcasts surpassed 800,000 valid podcasts! Here's some more information and statistics on the podcast industry, with data from My Podcast Reviews.
I won't include the raw numbers or percentages here because I suggest you look at the latest as they're updated nightly at MyPodcastReviews.com/stats.
Total valid podcasts
You may have heard higher numbers than I show on my stats page. While other services may be counting removed podcasts or former iTunes U content, My Podcast Reviews looks at only valid podcasts. We count a podcast as valid if it can be subscribed to in a podcast app (duh, right?), and has episodes that can successfully download. This excludes the tens of thousands of iTunes U courses as well as removed/deleted podcasts.
Total episodes available in feeds
There are many shows that have hundreds of episodes, but probably not all of their episodes are available in their RSS feeds. A feed will show only as many episodes as the podcaster or publishing tool allows. And the lowest limit I've seen is 10. So the episode number on the page does not reflect all episodes of all podcasts ever released; it's only what's made available right now through the valid RSS feeds.
Added and removed
Podcasts are added to and removed from Apple Podcasts nearly every day. Most of the added podcasts are all-new shows, and a very small few may be returning after having been hidden or removed years ago (and before I started tracking in December 2018).
Removed shows are no longer available in Apple Podcasts and may have been removed for multiple reasons, including:
- Technical problems: such as a broken feed or no more downloadable podcasts in the feed
- Podcasters' choices: to hide or removal a podcast
- Policy violation: keyword-stuffing, spamming, breaking Apple's rules, gaming the charts, etc.
Apple does not remove podcasts for simply being old or inactive. As long as the RSS feed is valid and episodes download, Apple will continue to list the podcast.
On the Podcast Industry Statistics page, you can also see what the last 7 days of activity have looked like with additions and removals. It's common that you'll see almost no activity on the weekends and a weekday or two with almost no activity. But the weekdays usually don't follow a pattern.
Active vs. inactive podcasts
We define “active” as any podcast that has published at least one episode in the last 90 days, and “inactive” as any podcast that has not published any episode in that same time.
“Inactive” does not necessarily mean those shows are dead, podfaded, or podflashed. “Inactive” could include these along with shows that have been ended, retired, put on hiatus, or have an infrequent publishing schedule.
For example, Dan Carlin's Hardcore History can sometimes be in the “inactive” group because months can go by between his highly researched episodes. But his show has not podfaded or been abandoned. It's simply inactive—”dormant” is an even better word to describe that podcast.
Podcasts by available episodes in feeds
At this time, about half of all available podcasts have 10 or more episodes in their RSS feeds. Remember, any count of episodes above 10 becomes invalid because of varying feed limit defaults.
The other half is broken down by shows that have only 1 episode, 2–3 episodes, and 4–9 episodes.
Active vs. inactive by available episodes
Digging deeper into the previous stat, the Podcast Industry Statistics page shows how many episodes are available in podcasts and splits them by active and inactive. I was surprised that everything under 10 is dominated by inactive shows. But once we hit 10 or more episodes, the majority of those shows are active.
For those wanting a more exclusive definition of “active” podcasts to filter out podflashes (shows that barely started before being abandoned), we suggest looking at podcasts that have four or more episodes with at least one episode published in the last 90 days.
Podcasts by latest episode age
This is where I think you should pay the most attention with my the Podcast Industry Statistics. You may feel intimidated by trying to stand out among 800,000 podcasts (or over a million in 2020!). But look closely at this chart.
This statistic looks at shows that have published a new episode in a variety of time period, 0–7 days ago and longer up to 5 years or more. This is measuring the age of the latest episode, not of all their episodes. Any show that hasn't published a new episode in the last 5 years is most likely ended.
But for you, look at that 0–7 stat, which is a significantly smaller number than all the other stats. Instead of trying to stand out among every podcast, commit to publishing weekly and you'll already be in the small minority of podcasts! Plus, the numbers start getting much smaller when you filter them to your category and then especially your niche.
Why this data?
I'm building an all-new product with great new features to bring data like this to podcasters. I've shared some of my findings before in “What New Data Suggests About Podcast Hosting Customers,” but this is only the beginning!
And if you want to see and share all your podcast reviews from everywhere, then sign up for My Podcast Reviews! It's free for personal use and paid plans with extra features and allowance for business-oriented podcasts start at only $5 per month!
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