This post aims to answer a simple question. Do I have more podcast listeners on Apple Podcasts or Spotify?

Industry Experts

A lot of articles have come out recently trying to answer this question in whole across the larger podcast ecosphere. Why? Because Apple has been the dominant player since the beginning. They have held on to a steady 60% market share of podcasts for over a decade with the 2nd place player being no more than 5% all that time. But Spotify has made a huge push into podcasts and is very quickly rising up. So the point at which Spotify crosses Apple will be a big deal for podcasting.

Chartable says 42.72% of podcasts are downloaded on Apple Podcasts and 19.89% are downloaded on Spotify. So Apple Podcasts is almost doubled.

Libsyn reports Apple Podcasts have 59.6% of all downloads and Spotify gets 11.6%.

MIDiA did a study and found in the US both Spotify and Google podcasts beat out Apple Podcasts. But this data is complete bonkers because it also lists Apple Music as one of the top places people download podcasts and there aren't any podcasts on Apple Music. So this absolutely cannot be accurate. So you can't trust that at all.

My stats

First let's look at the obvious place. My hosting provider. Here's what they say for the last 30 days.

User Agent Downloads %
AppleCoreMedia+Apple Podcasts 389,728 26.47%
Spotify 365,878 24.85%

So there you have it? Apple is slightly higher? Whoa whoa, not so fast partner. We have more tools we can use to check things out with.

First of all, the above chart is displaying a count for all my downloads across all episodes. Let's look at a single episode and see how it fairs.

User Agent Ep 53 Downloads %
AppleCoreMedia+Apple Podcasts 64,989 29.78%
Spotify 32,775 15.02%

See this paints a totally different picture. The number of downloads I got from Apple was 2x as much as from Spotify if we isolate a single episode. What's this mean? It means my Spotify listeners are doing a lot of listening in the older episodes, catching up. While the Apple listeners seem to be caught up and are mainly interested in the newer episodes. This skews my total downloads across all episodes in favor of Spotify much more than vs the last month's episode.

But now, let's ask both of them directly.

Apple Podcasts

Podcasters can login to Apple Podcasts and look at their stats directly there. Here is what it says:

Screen-Shot-2020-01-23-at-9.50.50-AM

Specifically that number is 50,189.

But that still doesn't tell the whole story, just because a device is played it once doesn't mean they are active listeners. So let's look at actual download stats for the last 8 episodes.

apple-chart-downloads

The latest one is only a few days old, but if you look at my previous episodes, I'm averaging around 24k downloads per episode.

But I see a problem. My hosting provider says I got 64,989 downloads from Apple Podcasts/iTunes for episode 53, but Apple is telling me I 28,911 devices downloaded it. This is a big difference and the reason is because the stats from Apple only come from devices running iOS 11+.

Spotify

Now we can also login to Spotify to see stats too. So let's look to see what they report.

Screen-Shot-2020-01-23-at-9.58.31-AM

Whoa what is this!? See, while Apple has been around since the beginning on podcasts, Spotify was clueless about podcasts a few years ago. They are a music streaming app. So they see things differently. Unique devices that tried playing an episode are "listeners" while people who click the follow button are "followers".

spotify-dls-chart

Dammit Spotify I'm lost. I don't understand your terminology. Ok your tool tip says a stream is counted when someone listens to at least 60 seconds of the audio, and a listener is the number of unique devices that played it. Okay... So I'm just going to say I get an average of 22k unique devices downloading my episodes.

Let's look at just episode 53 for a second.

Screen-Shot-2020-01-23-at-10.29.56-AM

What? Again I'm lost. Here's the tooltips:

Starts: Measured when a Spotify user listens to 0 seconds or more of any episode in your catalog.
Streams: Measured when a Spotify user listens to 60 seconds or more of any episode in your catalog.
Listeners: Measures the number of unique Spotify users who started an episode in your catalog.

So... I guess the number of unique devices that listened to this episode is 24,723.

Results

Drumroll...

Metric Apple Podcasts Spotify
Host DLs for All Eps (last 30 days) 389,728 / 26.47% 365,878 / 24.85%
Host DLs for Ep 53 64,989 / 29.78% 32,775 / 15.02%
Portal # Devices 50,189 105,321
Portal # Devices Ep 53 28,911 24,723
Portal Avg # Devices Per Ep 24k 22k

Psshhh. This clears up nothing! Numbers are wildly different depending on where you look. Some are neck and neck, one has Apple 2x higher than Spotify, and one has Spotify 2x higher than Apple.

And the numbers don't come close to matching up with Ep53 stats between what my hosting provider tells me and what the portals are telling me.

Where I say "host" above these stats are coming from my hosting provider, Megaphone. And when I say portal, these stats are coming from either the Apple Portal or the Spotify portal.

Now look at these two metrics the first from Apple the second from Spotify.

This is the same metric right? This is what I should be comparing right? Because in Apple we don't see number of "subscribers" only number of "devices". But in Spotify it does show us number of "followers" which is the same as subscribers.

Anyway, this was my attempt at trying to find out who's got more of my audience. And looking at, trying to average it all in my head and make sense of it. I still think Apple has a fairly big lead over Spotify as far as my listeners go. I don't think Apple is showing us all of their data, just iOS 11+ users. And my hosting provider says Ep 53 got downloaded 2x more at from Apple. So becasue of this, I'm feeling confident that Apple has a firm lead still. But. I think by the end of 2020 that will flip. Because Spotify has been dumping tons of money into marketing podcasts on their platform and is growing like crazy. Apple is going to launch some original shows this year which might help them, but their innovation seems to be very slow with podcasts and Spotify is innovating fast. So I think Apple will lose the crown this year. Which scares me a little because I don't think Spotify understands podcasts fully yet. In the last season of Startup we heard them say how just a few years ago they had no idea what podcasts were and basically called Alex Blumberg into a meeting to explain. They do really weird things with the way the RSS feeds work and are doing things that hurts the podcasting community. Podcasts should be freely available on any platform, but they keep launching Spotify exclusive shows. They are also launching a new podcast advertising technology soon which I'm not excited about. And they keep scooping things up like Gimlet, Anchor, Parcast, and soon a sports network. Spotify seems to be taking the crown of podcast player but not improving the podcast industry. They seem to be only focused on helping themselves. If they want to keep the crown for a long time they need to help the industry as a whole.