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Podnews report card 2022

How are the major podcast platforms doing? We’d like to know what you think.

From data collated in February, we hope it allows us to compare different podcast platforms, and give each of them concrete, constructive data to help them improve.

We de-duplicated our survey results. If you answered more than once then we deleted all but your last response (though you could do the survey as both a listener and a publisher, which only one person did). We also removed a few robot responses, and normalised app names.

In the below, apps or services are given a score if they had more than five votes; we’ve used all votes, but mainly focused on comments from people who’d given an email address. Comments beneath are almost all from people who had given their details.

Our overall survey size was

128 different publishers is a great sample, and it’s where we’ve focused.

Publishers

Apps and listener experience

As a publisher, how would you rate the following podcast apps? Do they do a good job of helping your listeners find, follow/subscribe, and listen to your show? Do they offer the features you want to offer your listeners? How easy is it to support these features?

We had 89 votes for “other” apps, and it’s no surprise that these scored higher: they were deliberately added and voted by their fans. But what did people actually say?

In the below, we’ve highlighted and grouped comments that echo a theme. We’ve almost entirely focused on comments from people who gave us their name and email address, rather than use their anonymity.

The recent changes to Apple’s UX are not loved by publishers, especially the changes around “subscribe”:

“Apple Podcasts’ change from a subscribe button to a tiny + sign makes it harder for new users to follow a podcast and thus makes it harder for podcasters to grow their audience.”

“Apple converting the subscribe/follow to an inconspicuous + at the top right for free shows makes the most likely new listener behavior a “drive by” listen. And the corresponding language (‘follow’) requires an explanation every time. It seems like a design decision made specifically to make it harder to get subscribers, and I have advised my clients to cease any advertising spend that points to Apple Podcasts, since the subscription process has become harder and more opaque, such that any spend is now a significant gamble.”

“Apple Podcasts app is feature-poor with the absolute bare minimum of capabilities to be able to be considered a podcast listening app. Apple’s best strategy would be to buy Overcast and release it as the next version of their app.”

In the view of publishers, Apple’s unavailability on Android is hurting the platform:

“Apple Podcasts is still the most well-rounded app for recommendations, in my opinion. I don’t use it to listen, as I don’t have an iPhone, but it’s just about clinging on to market dominance.”

“Not being able to browse the Apple Podcast library from a non Apple device is just… come on Apple.”

“My only gripe is never creating an Android version, but impressed at how their links now take folks without Apple Podcasts app to a website to play the episode. That wasn’t always the case and it’s a nice change.”

“Apple Podcasts, on the other hand, is available only for Apple users, so excludes discoverability for 1/2 of the global listening audience that uses Android devices, including me!”

“Apple requires specific hardware (well, Apple). Spotify has huge captive audience and it’s on all platforms.”

For Spotify, there is a surprising amount of comment about the company’s reputation:

“Spotify displays podcasts in the wrong order and jumps you to the last episode of a series spoiling the ending of a true crime or audio fiction 9 times out of 10. Plus Spotify’s CEO is an asshat.”

“I prefer Spotify, but do not like how little they pay the music industry to only pay certain celebrity status podcasters millions. If only that wealth could be more evenly distributed to ALL podcast creators.”

“Spotify is backing Joe Rogan’s insane claims and removing all other content that is similar but not making them money. Their latest practices are making me nervous and give me Facebook/Meta vibes.”

“Spotify is a shitty company, tells itself it’s not a publisher to try to avoid controversy, and is in it for $$ and data for advertisers. As a publisher, I pulled my show off of there when Neil Young took a stand. Even though Spotify won’t care,I didn’t want the ads that they put between my episodes to line the pockets of those assholes who have essentially built a crowded theater for a $100M Alpha Bro to shout “fire” in. Oh, excuse me, I misspoke. I forget he’s apparently “just asking questions” to the folks screaming fire. 🙄 Anyway, fuck Spotify.”

“I also don’t care for Spotify’s policies, especially as regards paying artists (music). If they can afford naming rights for a big stadium in Europe, they can do better on royalties for the music (the building blocks on which their whole business is founded)”

“Spotify provides a great sharing experience.”

“Spotify is doing a slightly better job than Apple. Spotify’s badges (“top show in Education”) are easily shareable, it’s easy to share/embed a podcast on social media (you can share an episode directly from Spotify to Instagram), and they seem to do a better job of helping podcasters promote their show.”

Google Podcasts has quite a few fans, as well as critics:

“I was hopeful that Google’s search prowess would put them ahead, but theirs looks worse and their feed switching is ridiculous.”

“I’d give Google a rating Above a 1 if they actually listed any podcasts. Right now everything says it’s blocked because I’m not “over 18”, so I fail to see why they’re even being mentioned as industry players at the moment. I’m not being hyperbolic. Every single podcast I find on Google Podcasts via the web is blocked. Bonkers.”

“Google podcasts doesn’t seem to display with as much pizazz. It has wrongly linked to our website and we’ve not been able to fix that so have eliminated Google from the places we cite that our podcast can be heard.”

“Google Podcasts have a very simple platform-agnostic interface, which makes it a no-brainer link to share in spreading the word about your podcast.”

“I find that I get much more out of the Google podcasts platform; I am discovered much more from this platform.”

“Google search gives me the best discovery but only because I have worked hard on SEO. Most people find my shows via a google search, not an app.”

“Google Podcasts: I’ve watched them continuously get better and improve and now it’s the app I use for listening the most. Submitting is still a little weird and I don’t like that they can grab the wrong RSS feed for shows. But I think it’s well on its way to being the go-to Android app.”

“Google Podcasts is doing the worst job in terms of supporting things like chapters, discovery, feedback, the listening is OK.”

“Google Podcasts simply seems like the company has forgotten it even exists.”

“Apple and Spotify do a good job in their native apps allowing users to find, subscribe, and listen to podcasts. They also do a good job providing recommendations and promoting podcasts. Google simply hasn’t shown an interest or ability to do the same on its platforms.”

And people love Goodpods and Overcast especially:

“My favorite app right now is Goodpods because it is easier to discover new podcasts due to being able to follow people in addition to subscribing to shows. It surfaces similar shows to what you normally listen to, but places more of an emphasis on what other are listening to. I absolutely love how it handles discovery.”

“Goodpods is great for those looking for podcasts especially ones not in the “mainstream””

“Overcast provides a great listener experience. Smart Speed listening is worth its weight in gold and the ability to easily share episodes, clips, make great playlists are all important factors. DVR-like app and website playback is also a great feature.”

“Overcast: The gold standard: Highly customizable, ability to skip intros, read faster. Awesome integration of chapters. It has clickable timestamps from the shownotes which is amazing! Makes my job as a solo indie podcaster so much easier.”

“Overcast pays great attention to detail. It has one job: To provide a great listening experience. That shouldn’t be a novel approach, but it is.”

“Overcast has the best audio processing technology. Ultimately, what I care most about as a listener is how podcasts “sound.””

Directories and content

You can list your podcast in many different places. How would you rate these directories for ease of getting your podcast listed? Are you happy with the other content in these directories? Are their categories right for your shows?

“Apple Podcast Connect is painful to use and with as long as it takes them way too long to approve a new show and update changes to cover images, descriptions, etc. It’s 2022! They are the tech company with the most money. Figure it out!”

“It is still way too difficult getting a show into Apple Podcasts. If I was new, I would probably give up.”

“I’d love to see Apple join the rest of the world and make an API for hosts to submit their shows to. Also their insistence on a valid credit card or accepting the iTunes T&Cs makes the process really difficult for newcomers, especially those on Windows machines.”

“Apple Podcasts is the only service that makes you create an account and go through a tedious review process with little to no confidence that you will be accepted. Other services, like Spotify, have the option for you to create an account for submission, but the difference is they offer APIs to podcast hosting platforms that can automate the submission process.”

“[There is ] 1-click submit (via API) to every app except for Apple. Look how hard it is to submit to Apple

“Apple is so unreliable, I have had multiple issues with new shows. Their support is sometimes okay, other times horrible - too much fuss.”

“Apple Podcasts is a hassle for anyone who doesn’t have an AppleID, it’s a whole rigamarole. If you do, well, then, it’s pretty easy. Spotify is easy, even if you don’t have an account (no 2FA or billing requirements like Apple), and Google Podcasts is easy perhaps but it takes a while and that generates a bit of anxiety in the vein of “is it there yet? is it there yet? did I miss it?” and that’s unpleasant.”

“Google’s lack of a manual option frustrates me as there’s no way of checking or forcing through your submission. Why make it difficult?”

“Google keeps indexing RSS feeds from my website that end up competing with my podcast and confusing subscribers. I had to block Google from doing this using a plugin and there are still errors. Ridiculous. Do they even know they have a podcast app? What junk.”

“Google keeps shifting where the feed comes from, and you need to accept where they say it comes from before changing it. I find I have to check my feeds often to make sure that it has not decided to re-route to another feed.”

Google’s directory strategy has allowed three of my podcasts to have been pirated, hijacked or confused with another.

“The Podcast Index updates so fast thanks to PodPing. The other directories sometimes take a day to update.”

“I don’t think any of them have really figured out the “discovery engine” part of it and I doubt they will put much effort into it since there’s more money in getting podcasters to advertise in the apps than in recommending great shows for free.”

“The key item for us an emerging podcast network is discoverability. All the [platforms] really lack a cohesive and successful discoverability process.”

“All the directories focus on the biggest podcasts which leaves small, independent shows in the dark. Categories are too broad and the search engines aren’t good enough to showcase more niche podcasts.”

“One thing podcast apps have lacked for a long time is the ability to know which episode to start with, Spotify are solving this with ratings/most shared tags on episodes, this should have been an obvious discovery feature in Apple for ages.”

“Finding a new podcast to listen to can be a challenge but I don’t rely on podcast apps to do this for me and I feel sad for people who do.”

Insights

These services offer a dashboard containing analytics and insights as to how your podcast is doing. How useful do you find this data? Do they work well?

“Listening data is the most useful. I just wish it wasn’t such a pain in the ass to access! Especially when trying to help clients get their Apple data.”

“Spotify has a great breakdown but that’s because they collect lots of data about their users. So on the one hand it’s great, but I feel dirty when I look at it.”

“I think, Spotify’s insights are far too detailed and creepy. So much information, I feel like a voyeur.”

“Analytics through the publishers and through most of the hosting/distribution platforms is basic to be kind. Demographic detail is still difficult to capture. Getting all your podcast analytics in one place is a challenge.”

“I would like Apple Podcasts to be openly IAB compliant with their stats.”

“I’d like to see some standardisation across the services, for instance how completion rates are reported, what counts as a play.”

“A download in Apple, is different from a download in Spotify, I guess.”

“Pretty confusing since they are not speaking the same language when it comes to downloads, streams etc.”

“Apple Podcast: Probably the most insightful analytics. A few weird things though: there’s no aggregate of reviews. Instead of me having to look per country, show me the ones that have reviews, and what is changing. This feels too clunky.”

“I wish Apple had the ability to see rates/reviews globally instead of limiting to the country you are in.”

“Even the one thing that apple should trump spotify on - reviews - is not well made. You cannot see all of your reviews in one place - you have to choose by country, which for an international podcast like mine, feels very disjointed.”

“Google Podcast: One of the best things about Google is the discoverability features: what people clicked on to find the podcast.”

“In my opinion that means their stats aren’t really all that accurate, especially when I compare them with YouTube. They should all strive to have detailed information like what can be found in YouTube Studio.”

Monetisation

These services offer ways to help your podcasts make money, from subscriptions, to tipping and crypto. How well do they work for your podcast? (If you don’t use these services, you can ignore this question.)

“Apple again make you jump through so many strange hoops, and their insistence on injecting themselves in the way of subscribers makes it unusable for anyone who isn’t at a huge scale.”

“Apple’s system feels a lot more like rent-seeking and lock-in than a meaningful service for podcasters, and I say this as someone who’s an enthusiastic participant in Apple’s ecosystem.”

“I found Apple Podcasts pretty easy to set subscriptions up with and within a month they were generating some good income for us. I was sceptical…but it’s working. Patreon is our biggest subscription platform at this stage though.”

“Apple Podcasts feels like an MLM scheme. Spotify is a cruel joke, using podcasts as a loss leader for stockholders.”

“On monetisation, it’s great that the Podcast Index has a tag for donations, but I believe they need to move past their infatuation with Bitcoin. It’s more harmful than it is valuable, and aside from it being a pyramid scheme contributing to the climate crisis, the barrier to entry is too high for listeners, let alone podcasters.”

“Podcastindex and Podcasting 2.0 are really innovative, but I don’t like the cryptofocus around that. This burns our planet and rises the profit of Mr Curry.”

“Massive industry failure with all of this in some fractured state of implementation. None of this works well for the publisher, listener, ad agency, ad buyers, or financial services.”

Innovation

Are these apps or services doing anything innovative? Do they offer ideas or features you can’t get anywhere else?

“Apple Podcasts are stagnant, and while they’re still the biggest kids on the block, there’s so many competitors coming from every angle they will, bit by bit, lose. Unless they change, adapt, and realise that they need to fight to keep the open system alive, podcasting as a whole is going to suffer. But please god, don’t let them just become Spotify 2.0. Podcasting doesn’t need more walled gardens.”

“The only innovative work I’ve seen is coming from Podcasting 2.0”

“The new tags from 2.0 are changing how many of us are publishing our podcasts. I love the new transcript tag, so we don’t have to clutter the show notes area. We have needed this upgrade for a long time.”

“The Podcast Index is the only source of listener-centric innovation. Everyone else seem like they only care about making advertisers’ experiences better.”

Podcast Index is the only I hear that is trying to work with and expand the usability of RSS. Some of their other ideas are less stellar, such as crypto currency integration.

Podcastindex and Podcasting 2.0 are really innovative, but I don’t like the cryptofocus around that. This burns our planet.

Podcast Index has made some colossal mistakes. Re-innovating existing podcast namespace protocols instead of starting with integrating all of Apple Namespace stuff was an extremely poor idea. And they’ve wasted months on an area of podcast tech that’s questionable at best. It’s shocking this is the group that just might save podcasting. If they can focus.

“Spotify are just introducing new features all the time, it feels innovative and exciting, apple just feels slow to progress and behind the curve. But it also feels solid and reliable.”

“Spotify is, by far, the most pushing podcasting platform right now. I think they are getting to associate “podcasting” and “Spotify” for a lot of users and potential listeners. And that is huge. And for us, publishers, it is a good opportunity to be present in an already established audio ecosystem. Apple has stopped improving their platform in this last few years. They updated their Podcasts Connect tool, which is fine and gave some new resources to us, but it feels they lack the will to lead this industry in the near future. Here in Spain, IVoox has made some interesting movements like paid podcasts and signing some podcasts to become IVoox Originals.”

“Spotify gets full marks because they provide more tools than anyone and are platform agnostic.”

“Not sure if I count Spotify’s movement’s innovation. Sometimes I feel like they might be the one elephant in the room and then see how they reshape the industry. But overal, being the only elephant in the room is a risk for independent podcasters.”

I have to give a shout-out to Overcast and Marco. I’m an Android user, but when I had an iPhone, Overcast was my 2nd used podcast app. Back then, I used it for the browser version I could listen to at work on my computer. Marco is fantastic and has listened to podcasters about making the app better all the time. I love the ability to share snippets of shows similar to an audiogram from Overcast. Great, great app!

I have no idea what Google Podcasts is doing. Just another generic me-too podcasting app, in my opinion

Standards

Are these services good stewards of podcasting’s open ecosystem? Do they support open standards and are they contributing to these standards?

Only Apple has maintained and tweaked elements over the years, but when they offered subscriptions they forked and stopped contributing.

Apple has reliable standards because they never change anything. That lack of change also holds the industry back.

“With their monetisation feature Apple is no longer the neutral partner it once was”

Apple may be one of the biggest corporations on the planet, but for some reason they haven’t tried to kill the openness of podcasting. Spotify (and that waste of space Luminary) are the opposite. Exclusive podcasts aren’t podcasts, by definition. The industry should be sustainable without big corporations or seed-money startups locking shows away.

There is movement away from podcast as open ecosystem to closed systems, and since closed systems is where the money is, I understand this development and choose to embrace it - as long 90% + of all podcasts will be free and with a rss feed, it is okay. There is a lot of benefits in the money that Spotify and other tech giants pour in the podcast industry.

Creator Relations

Do these services provide good resources for how to work with them? Are they easy to find and read? Are the team accessible? Does working with them deliver results for your show? Are these resources good for your podcast, or just good for their service?

I don’t feel like any of them give a shit about podcasters except the Podcast Index. Google ALWAYS has the worst documentation and support. The others are not much better.

Apple Podcasts has really improved their podcaster relations and they have really good docs.

Apple Podcasts lays everything out: here are our buttons, this is what you can and cannot do, etc.

Apple did not respond to anyone about the 14.5 ios issue so that’s a fail. Extra star because they have gotten better of late. Spotify does respond and are reasonably helpful.

There is a lot of work to be done in this area. The problem with the entire podcast directory/hosting industry is that there is no transparency. Everything is done in secrecy with a bunch of NDA’s whenever there is new technology in the works. More transparency is what podcasting needs in order to move forward.

I think the intrigue is part of their work identity but it makes it really hard for indie podcasters to get ahead. it’s like a private social club that only the a select few have access to.

Would like spotify to have a features section and accept pitches

I am based in India and there is a team in Spotify works with local creators, I am not aware of a similar team from Apple podcasts and Google podcasts. The team at JioSaavn has been the most useful. They have promoted my show multiple times that has helped us reach a new audience.

LOL. Does Google even have a team that interfaces with creators or just an email account that goes into /dev/nulll?

Overall

Finally, as a podcast publisher, what is your overall impression of these services?

The people putting the most effort into design, discoverability, and UI are small developers who will never be paid sufficiently for their services: Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocketcast. The big companies don’t need to because they know people will use their services regardless.

There’s always the fear that Google Podcasts will be sunset at any moment.

The fact that they exist and that others are able to listen to our shows is awesome. Podcasting has provided me a really good living.

Apple’s benign neglect of podcasts was its greatest strength, but those days are over.

All the platforms imagine podcasters have a sense of loyalty to them. They want us to promote their platform as THE platform to listen to podcasts. As if they’re deigning to allow us to post content to their catalog is some unbelievable kindness we must repay. When the truth is we built their platforms by providing quality content to them for free. Some of these platforms monetize our content for themselves (I’m looking at you, Spotify). The biggest lie in podcasting is that these platforms are here to help us find listeners. They’re here to find and monetize users. That’s all.

Google Podcasts is repeatedly switching feeds and then I have to go back into the dashboard and switch it back to my preferred feed. I don’t know why they keep doing this.

Spotify is only interested in their own bottom line and crushing their competition.

Controversial opinion: Platforms don’t matter. Any one of these platforms could go away tomorrow and nothing would change except market share data, which is only an interesting factoid in the industry. We spend entirely too much time thinking about ‘the best app’ to list your podcast on or wtf platforms are even doing. List your show on everything. That’s the benefit to podcasting-- it’s not platform-dependent. Give zero-effs about these platforms and find the actual freedom in podcasting. It won’t prevent success, it’ll make it easier.

Listeners

For completeness, here’s where the listeners voted things. Again, we’ve only shown apps with more than five votes.

Apps

As a listener, how would you rate the following podcast apps? Do they have all the features you want - speed adjustments, silence removal, sleep timers etc? Do they work across devices? Do they implement features well?

Directories and content

Each of these are different directories for podcasts. Do they list all the shows you want to listen to? What type of content would you like to see more or less of? Do they have the right categories?

Discovery

How do these apps and services help you discover new shows? They may have promotional sections in their app, or give tools to help your favourite shows promote themselves. How would you rate their efforts?

Accessibility

How do these apps do with accessibility - from closed captions and transcripts, to ease of control using voice or functions to help those with poor eyesight?

Privacy

How well do you believe these services respect your privacy?

Innovation

Are these apps or services doing anything innovative? Do they offer ideas or features you can’t get anywhere else?

Standards

Are these services good stewards of podcasting’s open ecosystem? Do they support open standards and are they contributing to these standards?

Overall

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