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It’s that time of year again, when all your friends share their Spotify Wrapped and you (read: me) reply with your boring Apple Music Replay and nobody cares. I do also have Spotify, but my Wrapped isn’t loading, maybe because it has been crashing from overuse. I did receive a tip from acclaimed author Olivia Wolfgang-Smith that if Taylor Swift is your number one artist on Spotify “they show you a little video of her saying thanks for being a simp.”
But it’s not just about the music! The end-of-year streaming roundups also give us a glimpse into people’s podcast consumption habits. Let’s get into it.
Spotify’s and Apple’s top podcasts are…
Spotify and Apple released their top podcast lists, and they have many (though not all) of the usual suspects. And while they give us valuable insight into which shows are performing well, neither are definitive. Apple and Spotify have different audiences and different strategies, and their respective rankings are a reflection of those distinctions.
Apple’s top 10 are:
- Crime Junkie
- The Daily
- Dateline NBC
- This American Life
- Up First
- Huberman Lab
- Hidden Brain
- Stuff You Should Know
And Spotify’s top 10 include:
- The Joe Rogan Experience
- Call Her Daddy
- Huberman Lab
- anything goes with emma chamberlain
- On Purpose with Jay Shetty
- Crime Junkie
- This Past Weekend w/ Theo Von
- Serial Killers
- The Diary Of A CEO with Steven Bartlett
- TED Talks Daily
As you can see, there is surprisingly little overlap between the two lists. Only Crime Junkie and Huberman Lab appear on both. And while Apple has a lot of true crime, news, and old podcast standbys, Spotify’s list is stronger on celebrity chat shows (particularly its own).
According to a study by Cumulus and Signal Hill, Apple’s podcast listeners tend to be older than Spotify’s (median age of listeners is 41 vs. 37, respectively). And while Spotify has an even split in terms of gender, 61 percent of Apple Podcast users are female. Additionally, longtime podcast listeners prefer Apple to Spotify.
You can see how these demographics play out in the results. True crime is in large part driven by women listeners, which contributes to the high rankings of Crime Junkie, Dateline NBC, and Morbid on Apple. Podcast stalwarts like This American Life and Stuff You Should Know also did well on Apple, likely because the app’s users have been consuming podcasts for a while.
On Spotify, you see its young audience at play. Alex Cooper, Emma Chamberlain, and Theo Von all clocked top spots. It’s not where you go to listen to NPR — not only are there no NPR shows in the top 10, there are only two (shorty shows Up First and NPR News Now) currently in Spotify’s top 100. For better or worse, it speaks to Spotify’s new podcast strategy that leans heavily on celebrity chat shows.
You also see on Spotify’s list a bias toward its own content. Four of the top ten shows are Spotify originals. This is slightly less egregious than last year when the streamer’s end-of-year list consisted of only five shows, four of which were Spotify’s. But even then, that was sort of explained by the fact that because Spotify’s shows were exclusive to the platform, the streams of those podcasts were concentrated in one place. That changed this year, with Spotify backing away from the exclusivity model and making many of its podcasts wide, including top-ten rankees anything goes and Serial Killers. It is possible that factors like in-platform marketing of those shows and residual listener habits played a role in elevating those shows.
There is still no list that can say with any certitude the exact ranking of all podcasts across all platforms, but I have found Edison’s quarterly study (which is based on polling, rather than raw download data) to be the most consistent. In its third quarter report, Edison confirmed that Rogan is number one and, reinforcing Apple’s data, put Crime Junkie at number two. But anything goes clocked in at number 45, and Serial Killers didn’t make the top 50. And despite the reach of conservative talk pods like The Ben Shapiro Show and The Dan Bongino Show, none of them appear on either list (although Cumulus Podcast Network, which distributes both, was in Apple’s top ten free channels). Perhaps, though, that listening is happening on YouTube or on Daily Wire’s own app, which is ranked 11th for the news category in the App Store.
This is not to say Spotify’s or Apple’s rankings are wrong. But because of the particularities of these lists, it is best to view them as a snapshot of their respective platforms, not of the industry as a whole.
Are there any shows you were surprised to see were missing? Or any you can’t believe are really that popular? Hit me up at email@example.com.
That’s all for today! I will be back Tuesday with the latest audio news.