Podcast Stats - The Sequel

©New Yorker

©New Yorker

There was a bit of industry stir in social media regarding my post on Tuesday about the number of podcasts actively in production out of the 706,000 listed titles (18% in a three-month period). In addition, Edison’s Tom Webster Penned a Pod Post A Pointed Perspective on the Purported Podfading Problem and Podnews’ James Cridland thoughtfuly contrasted the number of active podcasts with the mortality of TV shows  Of course they are correct; all TV shows eventually go out of production.

Podcasting, however, is on a wild hockey-stick ride.  Since my post from August of last year, the number of podcasts tracked by Blubrry has risen from 540,000 to 706,000.  That’s an increase of 166,000 in just nine months; a remarkable 14,000 new podcasts each month.

TV through its entire history, has as many shows as there have been new podcasts added in just nine months.

By contrast, there were 495 scripted original TV series in production in the U.S. in all of 2018 (as counted by the FX Cable Network).  That number is inclusive of broadcast, cable and streaming shows in a period often called “Peak TV.”  In fact, IMDB which tracks movies and TV shows has only 164,000 TV shows in its entire lifetime database.  Or to put it another way, TV through its entire history has the same number of shows as there have been new podcasts added in just nine months.

Wow.

The low barrier to entry for a podcaster is a “Mic and a Mac.”  As a result, many have “dabbled” in podcasting, trying out a few episodes. I spoke at the Beasley Radio Talent Institute in Boston earlier this week, and many of the college students said they had “played around with podcasts.” And that is a great thing.

Podcasting is a giant and ongoing experiment, and that is part of its not-so-secret explosive success. Fresh topics, new ideas and new approaches are mixed with unmemorable content. As discussed in Tuesday’s blog; content is not easy, nor is finding an audience. That makes the abandonment of many podcasts that much more understandable.

Not everyone who tries out makes the baseball team. There must be a stat on that somewhere. For TV, the cancellation rate every year exceeds 60%. This is a good reminder that hits are hard to come by.

X-raying the podcast numbers reveals trends and insights. The number of active podcasts at 280,000 (in the past year) for example, is far less daunting than the “box office” number of 706,000 all-time podcasts.  

Baked into the numbers are stories of experimentation, success and failure.

My friend Tom Webster is right. If you have a great idea, go to it. Please. If your current podcast isn’t working, some analysis and reflection is a necessary part of the creative process. Sometimes that means pulling the plug.

The stats from Blubrry just reinforce that baked into the numbers are stories of experimentation, success and failure. The creative process, especially in a “new’ business is sloppy, messy and miraculous.

How could it be any other way?

I am looking forward to moderating a top notch panel on the Smart Speaker opportunity for podcasters at Podcast Movement in August

I am looking forward to moderating a top notch panel on the Smart Speaker opportunity for podcasters at Podcast Movement in August

STEVE EMAIL BIO.jpg