How many of the 706,000 podcasts are still in production?

© New Yorker

© New Yorker

Last August (read: not that long ago), I posted a blog exploring how many of the 540,000 podcasts in existence at the time were still in production.  Fast forward to now and the number of podcasts has ticked up to 706,000 according to Blubrry who tracks these sorts of things.  

Back in August of last year, the rate of new podcast titles being added was approximately 2,000 per week. Mercifully, the rate of podcast entries has slowed now to about 3,000 new podcast titles a month (not episodes) according to Blubrry’s CEO Todd Cochrane.  

It’s one thing to start a podcast, and quite another to develop and sustain engaging content time after time.   So I asked Cochrane how many of the 706,000 podcast series have ceased production, or “podfaded.” The numbers are sobering.

Only 18% of podcasts added an episode in three months

Of all of the podcasts tracked by Blubrry, just under 280,000 of the 706,000 have produced a new episode in the one-year period of April 2018, to April 2019.  That means only 39% of all podcasts were in production in the past year.  Or to look at it through a different lens, more podcasts (60%) are out of production than in.

Todd drilled down further to the last three months – February, March and April - and during that period, only 126,000 of all existing podcasts added an episode.  That means only 18% of all podcasts added an episode in the last three months of the analysis. That number tracks closely (20%) with the data in my post from August of last year.

It’s also interesting to look at the mortality rate among “newbie” podcasts launched last year in that April-to-April time period. Todd estimates that more than half have not produced a fresh episode.  Gone.  Done. Fini.

Of course many series such has Serial have a limited number of episodes and that is an important factor. However, for every Serial, there are thousands that started a podcast only to fade after a handful of episodes.  Among others, the Anchor platform, recently acquired by Spotify, experienced a remarkably high attrition where far more podcasts were abandoned than continue in production today.  

Cochrane, who tracks podcast activity as one of the largest podcast hosting providers, thinks the slowdown in new podcasts makes sense as many people tried podcasting for the first time last year. The impact is many short-lived titles that unfortunately, clutter and negatively impact search as nothing is purged from podcast listings.

One thing is clear, even as the podcast business continues to explode, the gravitational pull downward will continue as the reality sets in that good content is time consuming and hard to produce, and for many, audiences are hard to attract.

Thanks to Todd for sharing these valuable stats.

Thanks to public radio blogger and consultant Ken Mills. His Spark News blog covered my presentation last week at The Conclave in Minneapolis on podcasting and smart speakers. You can read it here.

Congratulations to my friend Paul Jacobs who joins a few of us in receiving the Rockwell Award at The Conclave. Paul gave a truly wonderful speech captured by his brother Fred on his blog yesterday. It is worth the read.

And congratulations to Lori Lewis for assembling an excellent conference. The Conclave has a distinct focus on training the next generation. In a similar spirit, yesterday, I presented at the Beasley Radio Talent Institute in Boston to students looking to get into the business. Another important mission. Thank you to organizer Dan Vallie for developing this passion project and thanks for the invitation.

These are both important events focused on bringing much-needed new voices and fresh ideas to the business. Bravo.