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Today's most popular Android podcast apps

May 5, 2020 · By · 3.1 minutes to read

Across the world in December 2019, Android had a 74% market share: with Apple’s iOS just claiming 25% of the mobile market.

Even in the US, Apple’s heartland, Apple’s iOS only had a share of 44% of new US activations in Q1 2020: so Android is ahead in the US - as it’s been consistently every year since 2016.

The overwhelming majority of podcasts are listened-to via mobile phones - so it’s never been more important, for podcasting, to look at the Android podcast experience. What is today’s most popular podcast app for Android?

Above, we examined the total downloads for each podcast app through the Google Play store. We focused on podcast apps, so Spotify and similar products didn’t make our list - it’s hard to know how much of Spotify or Deezer are being driven by podcasting anyway.

To thwart our efforts to work out which is #1, Google Play doesn’t show total downloads - just a “tier” that the app has reached. So, Breaker (which launched in beta in September) has achieved somewhere between 10,000 and 50,000 downloads, as one example.

We also have taken into consideration the amount of days that the app has been launched. Podcast Addict, for example, may have over 500,000 ratings, but it was launched in January 2012, so has had plenty of time to achieve this number of ratings. So, we looked at the total amount of downloads, and ratings, the app has had per day since it was launched.

(We’d note, therefore, that “downloads per day” is a minimum figure, since Google Play only gives us download tiers).

By total downloads per day: Google Podcasts, with over 14,500. Castbox is a solid #2; and the #3, Player FM, has about a tenth of the downloads of Google Podcasts.

By total ratings per day: Google Podcasts. It has attracted over 400 ratings per day since it was launched in June 2018. Its closest rival, Podcast Addict, achieves less than half.

By average rating: AntennaPod. A German podcast app, which is also open source, seems to have a small but fiercely loyal userbase, and an average rating of 4.71*. However, with ten larger apps out there, its popularity isn’t reflected in its download numbers.

Google Podcasts is only a year and a half old. Google still, inexplicably, runs another, unconnected, podcast app. But it seems to have a hit on its hands - with over ten million downloads, and a significant number of ratings.

Why isn’t Google Podcasts higher in the charts?

The charts don’t normally show Google Podcasts very highly - but charts like these show downloads, rather than people. It’s probably the case that Google Podcasts has attracted newer listeners, who listen to fewer podcasts; and were we to look at unique users, rather than simply downloads, it’s likely we’d see a very different chart indeed.

Unlike others, Google Podcasts 'streams’, rather than downloads (i.e. it only starts going to get the file once you hit play - what the purists call a “progressive download”). Apple Podcasts downloads shows automatically for a while; Overcast downloads shows automatically until your device runs out of space, so it stands to reason that a podcast app that 'streams’ by default will achieve lower figures on a download chart.

And Google Podcasts is really hard to measure because of the way the Android app works, with a strange mix of user-agents that many podcast hosts find hard to properly measure.

Is Google Podcasts more popular than a download chart will show? Almost certainly. (Any enterprising podcast hosts who’d like to calculate “users” rather than “downloads”, please get in touch).

What should I do now?

Our advice to any podcaster:

a) Have a website, and always link there, and never just to Apple Podcasts

b) Have three buttons: one for Apple Podcasts, one for Spotify, and one for the most popular Android podcast app. Which is, very clearly, Google Podcasts.

*(If you’re interested, a search for ratingValue in Google Play’s HTML code shows you the rating down to more decimal points than is strictly necessary).

This article has been updated to include Podbean’s rankings

James Cridland is the Editor of Podnews, a keynote speaker and consultant. He wrote his first podcast RSS feed in January 2005; and also launched the first live radio streaming app for mobile phones in the same year. He's worked in the audio industry since 1989.


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