What 1 billion subscriptions means for podcasting


Apple announced on Monday, July 22, 2013, that it had tracked 1,000,000,000 podcast subscriptions.

We don't know the specifics of how that number was measured and what it includes. The Podcasts app for iOS is probably counted as well.

But regardless of that methods, this information should be encouraging to podcasters—especially since Apple is featuring it.

How big is a 1 billion subscriptions?

Apple says that those billion subscriptions are spread across 250,000 unique podcasts in more than 100 languages, and that more than 8 million episodes have been published in the iTunes Store to date. [Lex Friedman, MacWorld]

At 250,000 unique podcasts, this means an average of 4,000 subscriptions per podcast. This isn't the actual statistic, since many podcasters quit after 1–7 episodes. And many podcasts have hundreds of thousands of subscriptions while others may not even break 100.

But this does represent a massive potential audience. Since this billion represents active and former subscriptions, let's assume that the average listener has subscribed to 80 different podcasts over time. (But this doesn't mean they remain subscribed.) With this premise, we could assume there are 1.25 million podcast listeners.

Also consider that iTunes is just one podcast directory. In my own stats for Noodle.mx Network, iTunes and the iOS Podcasts app represent 51.6% of my downloads in July, 2013.


“Clients” usage for Noodle.mx Network from July, 2013. Stats provided by Blubrry.

If we apply this same market sample to the iTunes announcement, then that means there could be more than 2 billion podcast subscriptions across all apps and platforms.

Why is Apple featuring this?

Apple doesn't usually announce numbers unless they're somehow proud of what the numbers represent. I think that this announcement shows Apple has grown more fond of podcasting since Steve Jobs lumped it into “amateur hour” (iPod announcements, September 1, 2010).

This is Apple's opportunity to highlight some of the most popular podcasts (the typical selection), as well as bring more attention to the “New and Noteworthy” selection.

Apple doesn't directly profit from podcasts, but it does bring more people to iTunes and the Apple ecosystem, which does result in more profit. The simplicity of podcast subscriptions was a major factor in my own decision to switch from an Android smartphone to iPhone.

Apple is also largely responsible for bringing podcasts to the public eye with their inclusion in iTunes 4.9 in June, 2005. Since then, iTunes has remained the most popular podcast directory, and is even aggregated into several other mobile podcast apps.

I have no doubt that Apple is proud of the podcast industry as a whole. Podcasts are helping to sell Apple products and to purchase from iTunes.

What does this mean for us “mere mortals”?

That Apple has highlight this milestone is already helping the podcasting industry grow and receive more attention. I think Apple is re-affirming its support of the industry, and we can expect to see that grow in the future. Perhaps the podcasts app may finally come preinstalled on mobile devices with the release of iOS 7.

For us with smaller audiences, this gives us a glimpse of the potential audience and hope that it will only grow.

This should also be a reminder to ensure your podcast is in iTunes and you've optimized the listing with a great title, description, episode titles, and beautiful podcast cover art.

YouTube live-streaming

Google has opening YouTube live-streaming to all channels in good standing that have more than 100 subscriptions. This brings huge competition to Ustream, Livestream, and similar services.

This also solidifies the direction of the industry from “always-on” live-streaming with a single embed for everything to different embed codes and broadcasts for different events.

I personally dislike this industry direction, but I do love the functionality of YouTube for live-streaming. This means my live-streams can be published directly to YouTube immediately after my session.

The YouTube player is also more compatible on mobile devices, even if you use Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder. I've noticed Ustream and Livestream players would not play the live steam on the browser page on iPhones, but YouTube does.

I was quite disappointed with the audio sync problem in today's test:

I'll continue testing YouTube's live-streaming option, and I would love to know what you think!

Electro Voice RE20 and RE320 reviews coming soon

I recorded this episode with the Electro Voice RE20 (Amazon.com | B&H) again. What do you think of the audio quality compared with my past episodes?

I'll soon have a review on both the RE20 and Electro Voice RE320 (Amazon.com | B&H) and compare them with the Heil PR40 (Amazon.com | B&H). Watch my YouTube channel or video podcast edition.

Recent video: how to embed YouTube and podcast episodes

Learn two ways to embed both a YouTube video and a podcast episode in your WordPress site with PowerPress.

Need personalized podcasting help?

I no longer offer one-on-one consulting outside of Podcasters' Society, but request a consultant here and I'll connect you with someone I trust to help you launch or improve your podcast.

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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.

About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.
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[…] Most people find what Steven Pressfield calls, “The Resistance,” and they quit. The average podcast lasts less than seven episodes. People realize it’s really hard and they lose that initial enthusiasm and they quit. Seth […]


[…] Most people find what Steven Pressfield calls, “The Resistance,” and they quit. The average podcast lasts less than seven episodes. People realize it’s really hard and they lose that initial enthusiasm and they quit. Seth […]


[…] Most people find what Steven Pressfield calls, “The Resistance,” and they quit. The average podcast lasts less than seven episodes. People realize it’s really hard and they lose that initial enthusiasm and they quit. Seth […]

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