The podcasting industry uses the "download" to measure how many people are listening to a given show.

Every time someone plays, streams, or downloads the MP3 from the Transistor server, that counts as a download.

James Cridland, Editor of Podnews, explains:

To be fair, downloads are limited in usefulness. Some podcasts are downloaded but never listened-to; raw download numbers don’t give demographic information, either. But they are the

On average, only 10% of podcasts get over 1,000 downloads per episode.

How are Spotify streams treated?

Spotify re-hosts the audio from your RSS feed on their servers. Therefore, Spotify streams do not count against your monthly download limits.
Spotify streams are displayed in the podcast analytics you see on Transistor. However, Spotify has a one-day delay on how we receive stats. So your download count from Spotify will lag slightly. If you want up-to-date Spotify stats, you can use their dashboard
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