Articles on: Podcasting

What constitutes a podcast download, stream, listen?

What is a podcast download?

The Downloads metric encompasses all ways of consuming an episode.

As a podcast hosting platform we measure in “Downloads”, which is the industry standard. A Download indicates that the audio file has been delivered to the listener’s device.

The Sounds Profitable Podcast Industry Glossary defines a podcast Download as: “A term governed by the IAB Podcast Measurement Technical Guidelines that is counted once per episode, per unique IP address and device user agent combination, in a 24-hour period when 60 seconds or more of the audio file for a podcast episode has been sent from the hosting platform to the listeners device.”

Generally, the podcasting industry uses the "Download" metric to measure how many people are listening to a given show.

How are listens, streams and plays different to Downloads?

Listens, streams and plays are the metrics used by Podcast apps, they indicate podcast consumption rather than content delivery. They are not unique or de-duplicated metrics and can be counted multiple times for the same listener, listening to the same episode.

Here are some examples that help to illustrate the difference:

Example 1) A listener presses play on a podcast episode in Spotify. Transistor receives the request for the episode and serves the relevant audio file to the listener. Transistor then counts that as one download and Spotify counts that as one Start (where 0 seconds or more are consumed).

If the listener listens for 60 seconds or more of the episode it will also be counted as a Stream in Spotify too.

If the listener pauses, restarts or skips ahead in the episode Spotify may record multiple Starts and Streams for the same listener. Transistor would still only count that as 1 Download.

Example 2) A listener has their podcast app set to automatically get the last 10 episodes of a podcast when they click Subscribe.

This would result in 10 downloads showing in Transistor for those episodes, all on the same date. However the podcast app they use would only show a listen, stream or play on the days that those episodes are actually consumed.

Why don’t my Transistor analytics match the podcast directories analytics?

You should see your podcast directory analytics as an addition to your Transistor analytics. They offer additional insights that a podcast host cannot offer, like Average Listening Length and Drop Off Points.

Podcast hosts and podcast apps fundamentally measure different parts of the podcasting process. Podcast hosts measure audio delivery and podcast apps measure audio consumption. Audio delivery happens first and audio consumption comes after.

These two metrics are often aligned but there are many instances where they are not.

For example:

When an episode is delivered to the listener but it is never listened to. This would result in 1 download in your host analytics but 0 streams in your podcast app analytics.

When an episode is delivered to the listener but then it is consumed at a later date. This would result in 1 download in your podcast host analytics. Then 1 stream would show up at a later date in your podcast app analytics. So an episode delivery and its consumption can be separated by weeks or months even.

An episode is delivered to the listener once but consumed multiple times. This would result in 1 download in your host and multiple streams in your podcast app.

10 episodes of the back catalogue are automatically requested by a listener’s podcast app. This results in 10 downloads in your podcast host analytics but 0 streams in your podcast app. The streams may then individually show up in your podcast app analytics on later dates as and when they are individually consumed, if at all.

These differences in measurement mean that the numbers between host and listening app rarely ever match exactly.

Why are my downloads, listens, streams and plays higher on one platform and lower on the other?

My downloads in Transistor are higher: This could be from gaining new subscribers who are downloading your back catalogue to listen to later. Streams and plays for these downloads will show up in your podcast app analytics later, when they are being consumed.

My listens, streams and plays on my Podcast Directory are higher than in Transistor: This may be because the episodes were downloaded at an earlier date and are now being consumed. Also the podcast apps can count multiple streams for the same listener. Transistor will only ever show 1 download per episode for the same listener each day.

Overall, we would expect Transistor analytics numbers to be lower compared to the stats that podcast apps provide, as ours are closest to de-duplicated unique listeners.

How do I access the consumption data in Spotify and Apple Podcasts?

For Apple Podcasts you would login to Apple Podcasts Connect with the same Apple ID you used to submit your podcast to them.

For Spotify, you first need to create an account on Spotify for Podcasters and claim the podcast listing into your Spotify account. You can follow our guide here: How can I see my analytics on Spotify?

How do I learn more about my podcast analytics?

To learn more about how podcast directories count their own starts, streams, listens and plays you can look at their definitions of their own metrics:

Spotify - Understanding your podcast analytics
Apple Podcasts - Listener analytics

If you have any queries about your understanding your analytics please reach out to us:

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Updated on: 14/02/2024

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