Shrinking Podcast Numbers

Max Tani writes for Semafor about the change in Apple’s downloading defaults for podcasts. Apple is now shutting off automatic downloads for people who haven’t listened to a certain number of episodes within a specific timeframe. Previously, users who had stopped listening to a podcast, but hadn’t unsubscribed, would continue to get updates of new episodes for that podcast. This process allowed podcasters to pad their numbers with people who weren’t necessarily active listeners when reporting their audience metrics to advertisers.

The podcast industry was caught off guard by the changes.

But privately, reactions to the change have ranged from mild annoyance to legitimate alarm. Some advertising deals were inked under the assumption that shows had audiences they no longer have. The update also means that some shows could struggle to meet minimum download agreements. The fact that no major podcasts would talk about how much they lost is a sign that many big shows aren’t ready to admit how much their audiences have shrunk.

It will be interesting to see how this shakes out and how many podcasts cease to exist because of the new rules. It’s a crowded field out there as a result of the low barrier to enter the market and the democratized nature of the medium. That can make it harder to find your niche in such a large group competing for attention.