4 Ways to Check the Popularity of a Podcast

4 Ways to Check the Popularity of a Podcast

Do you make a podcast and wonder how you're doing versus your competitors? Are you looking for new podcasts but don't want to waste your time with junky shows? There are a few ways to judge the popularity of a show.

1. Apple Podcasts (iTunes)

There are 3 pieces of information to get from Apple Podcasts: reviews, ratings, and ranking.

Reviews are written statements from people talking about a show. These can be helpful or not. What's helpful here is the number of reviews.

Ratings show you how many stars people rate the show. Again the number of ratings is what matters here, a show with all 5 star ratings but only has 3 ratings is not that popular. But one with thousands of ratings and reviews is pretty popular.

Ranking is where a show sits in its category. A podcast can have multiple categories but only ranks in the first category listed. Within Apple Podcasts look to see what category the show is in, and look in top podcasts for that category. This indicates how many new subscribers that show gets a day compared to other shows in that category. Shows that don't rank at all are likely not that popular, and ones in the top ranks are probably popular. However it is possible to game these charts an get on them by manipulating the subscribers.

2. Chartable

This is a fancy new website found at https://chartable.com and it aggregates all the reviews, rankings, and ratings from Apple Podcasts and puts it into a nice easy to use chart.

It pulls charts and ratings from the following location and is busy adding new locations all the time:

  • Apple Podcasts
  • Stitcher
  • Podcast Addict

This is a great place to see how a show is doing in a single snapshot. Being able to see iTunes charts historically is also really helpful to see if it's trending up or down.

3. Podcast Addict

Podcast Addict is a free app for Android phones. It has a feature that tells you how many users of Podcast Addict have subscribed to a show

You see the number at the bottom? That's number of Podcast Addict subscribers. Now Podcast Addict only gets about 2% of all podcast downloads so this number is too small to accurately judge how many subscribers a show actually has.

4. Castbox

My favorite way to check the popularity of a show is through Castbox. This is a mobile app but also a web player. It also sees about 2% of total podcast downloads. But Castbox not only shows us number of subscribers but also number of downloads.

When you search for a show and look at it, you'll see something like this.

Now when you can see both number of subscribers and number of downloads, you begin to see exactly how popular a show is for the people who subscribe.

Here's the math:

Downloads / Subscribers = Average number of episodes subscribers listen to

So if we take Darknet Diaries above we see:

62,406 downloads / 7,312 subscribers = Avg number of episodes each subscriber listens to: 8.5

The average Darknet Diaries subscriber listens to 8.5 episodes. This strongly indicates listeners stick around for a while or binge through many episodes.

Some shows have more subscribers than downloads, this indicates not everyone who subscribes actually listens to the show. And shows that have people who listen to one episode then leave will have a low number here.


With Rise we have 92,712 / 93,559 = 0.99.

This means the average Rise listener, listens to one episode and stops. So even though the show has a lot of subscribers and downloads, the ratio between them is very low. This probably means the show is either not very good, or they are marketing it to the wrong people who listen and realize it's not for them. Which makes this one suspicious on how such a popular show isn't getting loyal fans.

So to determine if fans really love a show or not, look for shows that have at least 4x as many downloads compared to number of subscribers. Chances are, the higher number of average episodes listened means it's a show that has a fan base of people who really love the show.

A few more examples of shows that people REALLY love:

Joe Rogan Experience: 872,346 / 17,962,546 = 20
This American Life: 2,511,059 / 414,812 = 6.05
Reply All: 613,397 / 59,786 = 10.26
My Favorite Murder: 4,831,417 / 237,443 = 20.34
Sword and Scale: 3,125,845 / 144,584 = 21.62
Welcome to Night Vale: 1,153,957 / 110,906 = 10.40

So looking at these shows above, it looks like Sword and Scale has the most hardcore fans who on average listen to 21 episodes! And if you notice, even though it has less subscribers than This American Life, it has a bigger play count, indicating people binge through more episodes of Sword and Scale compared to This American Life. What's a podcast that you listened to more than 20 episodes of? Tweet at me @lime_link and tell me, because it's probably an amazing show that I should be listening to.