Weekly Insights · May 25, 2022

How Many Shows Must One Buy to Reach the Majority of Podcast Listeners in the U.S.?

By Gabriel Soto

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The immense number of existing podcasts and the saturation within the market, without question, is one of the most popular conversations ongoing in the industry. For an advertiser aiming to reach a large number of people – choosing where to launch their boat in this sea of two million or so existing podcasts can be quite intimidating.

Last week, using Edison Podcast Metrics data, we looked at the “long tail” of podcast listening, and noted that the “big hits” of the medium account for a large portion of all listening. Edison Podcast Metrics can also provide a roadmap and answer the important question: where on this tail should one advertise? For the advertiser looking for reach, a surprisingly small number of the total shows – those at the top of the charts– can get one’s message to a surprisingly large portion of all podcast listeners.

Let’s look at how much reach a brand can achieve among weekly podcast listeners if that brand were just to buy these ‘biggest shows’.  As the graphic below demonstrates, if one were to simply buy the top ten biggest shows in podcasting an advertiser would be reaching one-third of all weekly podcast listeners.

Expand the buy to the top 25 shows, and one is pushing close to half.

Just the top 100 shows combined are reaching six-in-ten weekly podcast listeners, and if one could buy all of the top 1,000 podcasts, 82% of all weekly podcast listeners would be exposed to the advertisement.  

This access to 82% of the weekly podcast audience (more than 50 million Americans) is not only composed of shows from big-name networks, but independently operated ones too, such as Escuela de Nada (#707). 

So of course, at this point, you can turn the numbers inside out – buying every single one of the remaining podcasts beyond the top 1,000 will achieve an additional 18% reach.  

This doesn’t necessarily mean advertisers should ignore any podcast that falls below the top 1000. The 18% of the audience that is not reachable by the top 1,000 podcasts amount to millions of people accessible only by tapping into the shows beyond the top 1,000. Not to mention, these shows with smaller audiences are very useful in targeting specific types of listeners that align with specific types of brands.  

Gabriel Soto
Senior Director of Research, Edison Research

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