Weekly Insights · May 31, 2023

Weekly Insights 5.31.2023 How many shows to reach the majority of podcast listeners in the U.S.?

By edison

This post is from Edison’s Weekly Insights email. Please click here if you would like to subscribe.

When advertisers look at the podcasting space, they are met with the reality of a world filled with hundreds of thousands of shows, many of which have valuable, loyal audiences. All across the spectrum there are effective podcasts targeting niche audiences that can really pay off for the right advertiser. If, for instance, one is selling small-batch, high-end whiskey, one can advertise on shows for people who are interested in such.

At the other end of the spectrum, one finds mass advertisers who are looking for reach – trying to get their ad to be consumed by as many people as possible within their target. Think about consumer packaged goods, quick-serve restaurants, the big car companies, and the such. 

Since we began collecting data for Edison Podcast Metrics four years ago, we have seen that a relatively small number of ‘big hit’ shows deliver significant reach against the base of weekly podcast listeners. We can also look at the combined reach of shows by adding the number of listeners between shows and then deducting the listeners to both shows.  

So, if we start with the biggest show on our list, then add the second biggest show, and so on, how many shows would an advertiser need to buy in order to achieve a reach of half of all weekly podcast listeners?  The answer is 44.

The graphic below shows how audience is accumulated as more and more shows are added from the top on down.  The Top 10 podcasts (the biggest of hits) combine to reach 35% of all weekly podcast listeners in the U.S. age 13+. As you continue to build reach cumulatively, you can see that the Top 25 podcasts reach 45% of weekly podcast listeners. With only the 25 biggest shows, nearly half of all weekly podcast listeners are accessible!  

The audience builds from there, but one has to buy more and more shows to achieve incremental reach. The Top 100 shows reach 60% of the weekly podcast listeners and the Top 500 podcasts yield a reach of 76%.  Buying all of the next 500 shows will only obtain another five percentage points of reach, as the Top 1000 podcasts combine to reach 81%.

The remaining 19% of weekly podcast listeners are reached exclusively by smaller shows that rank 1001 or higher, the shows on podcasting’s ‘long tail.’ Note that 19% = 17 million listeners that the top 1,000 podcasts do NOT reach.

Podcasting has become a mainstream medium whose top shows can reach incredible numbers, but we understand reach isn’t the only benefit of podcast advertising, nor is it feasible to buy ads on all top 500 shows. Podcasts, even those beyond the top 1,000, provide advertisers with so much more, and we’ll touch on those characteristics in next week’s Insights.  

Edison Research announces the Top Podcast Genres in the U.S. for Q4 2022 – Q1 2023. The Top Three Genres consumed by most weekly podcast listeners age 13+ are: Comedy, News, and Society & Culture. The list ranks the most popular podcast genres based on audience size among weekly podcast listeners age 13+ from Edison Podcast Metrics. Click here for the full list of podcast genres 


Get our latest insights delivered to your inbox.