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Top 25 Podcasts People Actually Listen to in 2020

Media Monitors list relies on listener memory rather than downloads to assess popularity.

Source: Media Monitors

Network and local monitoring company Media Monitors is adding “regular podcasting metrics” this year. To highlight its latest offering, the company has released information about the “Top 25 Podcasts” as determined by a recall survey in January.

In a press release announcing the information, Media Monitors president and CEO Philippe Generali addresses a question that has long plagued podcasters: Are downloads or subscriptions truly equivalent to listening?

Why does this matter? Advertisers are used to metrics like views, impressions, etc., and they want to know that an ad will actually be heard by a consumer, not just stored on their iPhone.

“Opt-in redirects or server-based download measurements services …. might be an indication of who subscribes to a show, but here, this survey asked respondents to name the shows they actually listen to,” Generali said.

Take The Joe Rogan Experience, for example. It’s consistently listed on top downloads lists, and it also dominated the recall survey, ranking “number one among men and women, in every income bracket, among listeners of any education level and in every region.” However, it is only second in the 35–44 age bracket, perhaps its one area to improve outreach.

Media Monitors said its survey, conducted by Macromill Group company Precision Sample, also confirmed the conventional wisdom that women are true crime obsessives. Two advice programs also made the cut.

Their top five were:

  1. The Joe Rogan Experience
  2. Phil in the Blanks
  3. Crime Junkie
  4. My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
  5. The Dave Ramsey Show

Men’s podcast listening habits also play to type, with representation from sports, news and comedy programming in their top five:

  1. The Joe Rogan Experience
  2. ESPN
  3. The Daily
  4. Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend
  5. Rush Limbaugh Morning Update

It’s interesting to note that the overall Top 25 Podcasts list is dominated by programming favored by women. The number one show overall (Joe Rogan) is a favorite among both men and women, but the remaining four are those named by listeners who identified as female. Check out the chart (above) to see the full list.

There has also been significant debate about how advertisers should take advantage of this medium. Many listeners of what Media Monitors classified as “niche podcasts” were unable to independently recall brands advertising on their favorite shows. With an assisted recall, respondents listed Geico, Squarespace, ZipRecruiter and Quip as podcast advertisers they remembered. Media Monitors suggests this means many podcasts still do not have advertisers/sponsors, which they say represents an “untapped opportunity.”


This article originally appeared in Pro Sound News sister publication Radio World.

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