Subscribe by email, free
Your daily briefing for podcasting and on-demand
A crowd of people
Image: James Cridland

US podcast app downloads and audiences: Sep 2021

· By James Cridland · 3 minutes to read

This article is at least a year old


Podtrac has shared data from more than a billion US downloads for Podtrac measured shows in September 2021, including those of the Top 20 Podtrac Ranked Publishers.

Mark McCrery, CEO of Podtrac, says: “Apple is still on top in delivering both the most U.S. audience and streams/downloads for measured publishers. For streams/downloads, and the monetizable ad impressions that go with them, Apple delivers 7x more than the #2 source, consistent with last year. For audience, Spotify has increased its market share year-over year, and there’s a lot of room for them to increase monthly podcast downloads/streams/engagements per listener.”

Monthly download share

This shows total streams/downloads - resulting from either someone pressing “play” on a podcast app, or someone automatically downloading a show.

Two-thirds of US monthly streams/downloads came from Apple Podcasts. Spotify contributed 9%.

This will differ from podcast host data since this is only counting streams/downloads from the US; and highlights the part that Apple Podcasts plays in the country in terms of total downloads.

Monthly audience share

This is a very different graph - showing that in terms of US monthly audience, 28% of US podcast listeners are using Spotify, and Apple Podcasts is slightly ahead, at 30%. We already know that, in terms of total users, Spotify is market leader in some countries; but this shows that Spotify is close in the US, too.

See below for a graph comparing podcast consumption on Spotify vs Apple, in terms of each audience member.

Get the free Podnews newsletter for more like this.
Our privacy policy keeps your data safe.
(Fill this in now; you won’t lose your place!)

How each app is growing

The iHeartRadio app and Chrome have both gained substantially in terms of downloads and audience. The iHeartRadio app has almost doubled in size; however, as can be seen above, it is only responsible for around 4% of US podcast streams/downloads.

Spotify has gained 14% in audience in the past year: but their market share for streams/downloads has become slightly smaller. Their main competitor, Apple Podcasts, appears to have lost market share for users, even though they’ve gained for streams/downloads.

An app showing a decline in this graph reflects a decline in their market share. The podcast market has grown, so it may not reflect a decline in their overall numbers, though.

Alexa, Amazon’s smart speaker, has shown a significant increase in usage.

What seems clear from the above graph is that the smaller, “indie”, podcast apps are losing ground. Big apps like Apple and Spotify are, it seems, squeezing the smaller players out of the market.

How many streams/downloads per audience member?

Across all Podtrac measured shows, Apple Podcasts was responsible for an average of 20.4 streams per person in September 2021, a significant increase on August 2020.

It’s here that the difference between Apple and Spotify is most obvious. Spotify appears to be used by the occasional podcast user; Apple (and Overcast) by the podcast fan. This may be that Spotify users also use the app for music streaming; but it may also represent an opportunity for Spotify to significantly increase its market share overall.

It should be noted that this data will be affected by automatic downloads. Overcast downloads new shows until your phone fills up; by default, Apple Podcasts continues automatically downloading shows until it notices you’re not listening any more. On the other hand, Spotify (and browsers like Chrome) stream podcasts instead in most cases. This difference may explain some of this data.

Notes on this data

  • Source: Podtrac, September 2021 - more than a billion podcast downloads/streams from participating publishers
  • 'Apple Podcasts’ on this data includes devices using the AppleCoreMedia useragent, which may over-estimate Apple Podcast’s data
  • This data does not show exclusive Spotify shows, or paid Apple Podcasts subscriptions
James CridlandJames 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.

Readers and supporters

Gold supporters

Silver supporters

Support Podnews, and our industry

Get a global view on podcasting and on-demand with our daily news briefing