What's a good number of podcast downloads?

Podcast downloads are one of many metrics that can give you insight into how your show is performing over time.

But what is a good number of podcast downloads? The answer to that question depends on quite a few variables. 

In this article, you’ll learn about what factors go into determining whether your podcast downloads are good, what you can do to improve, and also, why there are some other key podcast metrics you should be paying attention to if you’re focused on growing instead of worrying about the downloads.

What is—and what is not—a podcast download

In the podcasting industry, there are so many terms that sound familiar, yet mean different things —like podcast downloads. It’s often used synonymously with other terms such as podcast listens, podcast plays, and podcast streams. But just because you may hear them used interchangeably, they don’t actually mean the same things.

A play or stream happens when a podcast listener tunes into an episode. Spotify considers a podcast stream to be when a user listens to more than 60 seconds of an episode. According to Apple, a “play” is the number of times an episode has been listened to, on a unique device, for greater than 0 seconds. 

A podcast download happens when an episode has actually been downloaded onto a listener’s device. It’s also one of the most common ways people measure the growth and success of their shows since all podcast hosting platforms will share stats on downloads from the moment an episode is live.

How to check your show’s downloads

Your podcast host should be able to tell you how many downloads each of your episodes gets.

In HelloAudio, as an example, the amount of downloads is listed directly on the side of all published episodes in the main feed. Buzzsprout also does the same, and takes it a step further with a “Stats” page that showcases how many downloads the overall podcast has had within a set period of time, as well as drilling down different ways to view the downloads on a per episode basis. 

Buzzsprout analytics chart
Source: Buzzsprout

‎If you aren’t sure where to look to find the number of downloads in your podcast host, look for tabs or links titled “statistics”, “stats”, or “analytics”.

Your podcast host isn't the only place you can get this information, though. One example is Chartable. To get that data, you’ll need to use integrations between Chartable and other tools, such as Trackable and Spotify, or add a special prefix to your RSS feed URL. My integrations aren't currently set up correctly — which is why you'll see N/A instead of true downloads — but here's one of the ways you can view this information.

Chartable screenshot

All of these data sources can give you slightly different numbers. That's why the most important thing is to choose where you get your data and stick with the numbers they give you.

For example, last year I tested out a different podcast host before ultimately moving back to Buzzsprout. The second host portrayed my downloads as being much higher than Buzzsprout did. And sure, while it felt temporarily great to see elevated numbers, I’d much rather have accurate historical data.

Can I see how many downloads other podcasts get?

Not really.

There are online resources that try to offer a glimpse into a podcast’s performance, but what they’re really doing is sourcing data points and providing their take on what that data actually means. Resources like ListenNotes.com, Podchaser, and Rephonic are examples of this.

Both Podchaser and Rephonic paywall their insights. So even if you’re willing to accept that the stats they present you with may not be precise, you won’t be able to see them unless you pay to.

ListenNotes, however, is a free tool that provides two metrics for most podcasts: Listen Score and Global Rank. The higher the Listen Score is, the more popular the show is. The Global Rank measures its place among all podcasts as a percentage—the lower the percentage, the higher its rank.

Listen Notes screenshot

If you’re trying to gauge the performance of your peers' podcasts, you could check these two figures. This is what I used to do when I was determining if I should pitch myself to other shows.

But that’s not my main reason for checking ListenNotes. I use their metrics to track my own show’s growth. For example, shortly after I started my podcast, Talk Copy to Me, I had a Listen Score of 25 and a Global Ranking of 10%, which is common for new shows. A little more than a year later I had moved into a 5% rank and a score of 29. Just recently, when I checked, I found that my show moved to a 3% ranking and a Listen Score of 34.

While I do know that these numbers are a bit of a vanity metric, it’s still helpful for me to see that I’m improving.

Let’s set some podcast download expectations

How many downloads is a good number?

I see this question asked in podcasting groups of all the time. In truth, downloads are incredibly subjective and the answer is easily influenced by the type of show, the podcast topic, publishing frequency, seasonality, guest experts… the list could go on and on.

For example, some niches will invariably get a larger number of downloads than others. For example, true crime is one of the most popular podcast niches. You can expect more downloads for a show in that niche than you could for a show about, say, accounting (sorry, accountants!).

However, that popularity is a double-edged sword. As the podcasting landscape grows, the competition does too. If you’re competing for downloads with a larger group, expect lower numbers.

What’s important is that you don’t play the comparison game, both with other podcasts and with yourself. Things like Instagram likes and YouTube views work on a completely different playing field than podcast downloads, and the numbers aren't comparable.

What is a good number of podcast downloads?

My expectations have been set. Now really: how many downloads is a good number?

Everyone still wants a number to measure their show against. And I get it—with so little data available to podcasters, it can be easy to want a set number to aim for.

With the 2023 Podcast Marketing Trends report, you may finally have your answer. 

Per-episode download data from the 2023 Podcast Marketing Trends report
Per-episode download data from the 2023 Podcast Marketing Trends report

‎According to the data collected from those respondents, the median show gets 421 downloads an episode or about 1425 downloads a month. This, to me, actually feels pretty uplifting. I had assumed that number would be much higher.

Buzzsprout also shares monthly platform data, and recent numbers suggest that a podcast in the top 25% of shows will get 120 listens in the first 7 days. Now that feels incredibly reasonable. Still looking to aim higher? Their data suggests that a top 5% podcast will have 1,120 downloads and a top 1% will have just under 5,000 downloads in the same timeframe.

Not quite getting hundreds of downloads? Not a problem. As I mentioned earlier, the downloads don’t quite tell a full story of your podcast. For example, If you have a small number of downloads, but a ton of engagement, enthusiastic social shares, or a high ROI from those dedicated listeners, you may be quite happy with the numbers you’re seeing.

What’s more important: downloads or growth?

Rather than focusing on one download number, why not focus on your show's growth over time?

Growth was the very reason Jeremy Enns, the founder of Podcast Marketing Academy, first set out to collect research for the Podcast Marketing Trends report. After measuring growth for his students’ shows and his own show over time, he wanted to find out what a successful month-to-month growth should look like.

“My hunch going in was that if you were in the 5 to 10% range, you were doing pretty good," Jeremy said. "And I thought maybe the average would be three to four percent, so I was quite surprised how much lower it was at 1.62 percent."

Which means that no matter what your actual numbers are, if you’re slowly growing, you’re doing pretty well.

As he reflects back on the data, Jeremy shares, “Almost every single podcaster I've ever talked to is frustrated at how slow they're growing. Everybody thinks it's them and that everybody else is growing way faster. And I think that this is really encouraging to see that everybody is not growing way faster — everybody is pretty much in the same boat.”

How to increase your podcast downloads

If your current download numbers are lower than you’d like, there are quite a few ways you can work to improve them.

First, do an audit of your show to see what you could improve on. Ask yourself questions like, 

  • How is the sound quality?
  • Is the episode organized and easy to follow?
  • Am I asking my audience to follow the show in their favorite podcast players?
  • Am I asking my audience to share the show with people they know?

Once that's done, look into ways you can improve on your episode promotion efforts. Are you

Know your numbers and focus on growth

While it’s great to know how many podcast downloads your episodes usually get, don’t let downloads be the only thing you pay attention to. Review all the data before making any decisions or determining whether you think the episodes and output were successful. 

As you focus on growing your show, don’t allow yourself to fall into a comparison trap. There’s no way to know successful another podcast truly is. Focus on creating a quality podcast with solid promotion and the downloads will come.


How many podcast downloads is considered "good"?

There’s no one universal answer to how many podcast downloads is considered good. If you want hard numbers about podcast downloads, current Buzzsprout data suggests that a top 25% podcast will have 120 downloads in the first seven days after the episode is published, whereas a top 5% podcast will have 1,120 and a top 1% will have just under 5,000 downloads in that timeframe.

How do I see how many downloads a podcast has?

You can see your own podcast’s downloads from your podcast hosting platform or by signing into sites like Apple Podcasts Connect and Spotify for Podcasters.

There’s no precise way to see how many downloads another podcast has, but sites like ListenNotes, Podchaser, and Rephonic give estimates based on the data available to them.

How many downloads does a podcast need to make money?

There's no set number of downloads a podcast needs to make money. Downloads is just one small consideration when it comes to making money podcasting—there's also your niche, your audience demographics, whether you sell products or services, and tons more.

How do I get my first 1,000 podcast downloads?

To get your first 1000 podcast listeners, the most important thing is to promote your podcast. The most effective way to do this is by getting your show in front of other podcast listeners through podcast parties, promo swaps, and feed swaps with other podcasts.

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