Are you wondering if your podcast is performing well? Knowing what podcast download numbers are considered good is crucial for assessing your show’s success. Whether you’re aiming to attract sponsors, grow your audience, or simply gauge your progress, understanding how to measure your podcast metrics is key.

It is also important to know if the numbers you are measuring are podcast vanity numbers or metrics focused on growing your brand. Are you trying to reach unknown masses of people or a specific audience?

If you are focused on business results and brand awareness, you should also read this article on measuring branded business podcasts.

Understanding Podcast Measurement Numbers

There is No Centralized Podcast Data:

There isn’t a single source for comprehensive podcast download statistics. Most data comes from individual hosting platforms, meaning the numbers can vary widely. Each platform uses its own methodology for counting downloads, leading to discrepancies. For instance, what one platform considers a download might only be a partial listen on another.

Podcast Downloads versus Streams:


  • Measuring Success: Downloads show how many people have saved your episodes to their devices, offering a clear indication of genuine interest in your content.
  • Pros:
    • Reliable Metric: Downloads are a strong indicator of committed listeners because they’ve taken the step to save your episode.
    • Offline Listening: Reflects a dedicated audience who want access to your content even without internet access.
    • Better for Sponsors: Advertisers often prefer download numbers as they imply a higher level of engagement and commitment.
    • Accessible Data: Your podcast hosting platform can reliably track and report download numbers, making it easier to measure success.
    • Consistency: Since your platform doesn’t show streams, downloads provide a single, consistent metric for measuring your podcast’s performance.
  • Cons:
    • Storage Limits: Some listeners might delete episodes after listening, which means repeated downloads may not reflect unique listeners.
    • No Real-Time Feedback: Downloads don’t show when or if the episodes are actually listened to.


  • Measuring Success: Streams indicate how many times your episodes are played directly from the internet.
  • Pros:
    • Real-Time Data: Streams provide more immediate feedback on how your episodes are performing.
    • Continuous Engagement: Streams can show trends over time, like which parts of an episode are most popular.
    • Accessibility: Easier for casual listeners to engage with your content without committing to downloads.
  • Cons:
    • Internet Dependence: Streaming numbers can be affected by listeners’ internet availability.
    • Less Commitment: Streams might include listeners who play the episode briefly and then stop, providing a less accurate picture of dedicated engagement.
    • Inconsistent Metrics: Streaming data can vary across different platforms, making it harder to get a consistent measure of success.
    • Unavailable Data: Your platform doesn’t provide streaming data, making it an unreliable metric for you.

Using Both Metrics

  • Comprehensive Insight: While downloads are more reliable for gauging long-term engagement, streams can still provide valuable real-time insights if available.
    • Downloads: Indicate dedicated listeners and potential for offline engagement, easily tracked by your hosting platform.
    • Streams: Offer insights into immediate interest and engagement trends, though less consistently.

Which is best to measure podcasts – Downloads or Streams?

  • Downloads are the more reliable metric for understanding long-term engagement and committed audience size, especially since your podcast hosting platform can provide this data consistently.
  • Streams provide additional real-time feedback and highlight trends, but are less dependable due to variability, less committed listeners, and unavailability on your platform.
  • Focusing on downloads gives you a clearer and more consistent view of your podcast’s success and helps tailor your content strategy to better meet your audience’s preferences.

Social Media vs. Podcasts:

Podcast downloads typically grow slower than social media stats. This is because podcast downloads represent a more committed listener base. Social media engagement can be quick and superficial, while podcast listeners often dedicate significant time to consuming content.

Industry-Wide Podcast Download Statistics

Hosting Platform Data

Different hosting platforms provide varied benchmarks for podcast success. Here are the statistics from two popular platforms:

Buzzsprout: Buzzsprout measures downloads over a seven-day period. Their benchmarks are:

  • More than 30 downloads places your podcast in the top 50% of shows.
  • More than 105 downloads places your podcast in the top 25%.
  • More than 405 downloads places your podcast in the top 10%.
  • More than 975 downloads places your podcast in the top 5%.
  • More than 3,600 downloads places your podcast in the top 1%.

Libsyn: Libsyn measures downloads over a 45-day period. Their benchmarks are:

  • More than 154 downloads places your podcast in the top 50% of shows.
  • More than 1,200 downloads places your podcast in the top 20%.
  • More than 3,400 downloads places your podcast in the top 10%.
  • More than 8,100 downloads places your podcast in the top 2%.

Creating Your Own Success Metrics

As we mentioned earlier, if you have an industry specific podcast and your goal is brand growth, none of these stats may matter. Your total addressable market may be smaller than a vanity number of podcast downloads. Also, you may be targeting a specific listener instead of trying to reach the masses.

Organic Network Approach:

  1. Identify your personal and social media networks. Consider how many people are in your immediate and extended networks.
  2. Estimate the percentage of these contacts likely to subscribe to your podcast.
  3. Set an initial download goal based on this estimate. For example, if you have 1,000 contacts and estimate a 10% subscription rate, aim for 100 downloads per episode.

Time Worth Calculation:

  1. Define what download number justifies your effort. Consider the time and resources you invest in producing each episode.
  2. Adjust goals based on audience size and niche. Smaller niches might have lower download numbers but higher engagement rates.

Monetization Goal:
If you aim to monetize your podcast through advertising, strive for at least 5,000 downloads per episode. This number is a general threshold that attracts potential advertisers.

Track Your Progress

Regularly monitor your download numbers to adjust goals and strategies. Use analytics provided by your hosting platform to understand listener behavior and trends.

For more podcasting tips and strategies, talk to us at Content Monsta. We can help you towards podcasting and more importantly, business success.