Why Podcast Listens Are Down During Covid-19

When local governments and companies put restrictions in place, asking employees to work from home I, like many other podcasters, thought my listener numbers would spike. Instead, I saw a massive dip in downloads. If you’re in the same boat, the reason why podcast listens are down during Covid-19 is all about routine.

I made the assumption, and perhaps you did too, that people spending more time at home, meant they would have more idle time to consume content. But that assumption completely ignores how people listen and when. Understanding both are key.

In a zoom discussion today with members of a podcast association, many podcasters had seen similar traffic dip concerns. The generalized agreement eventually centered on one thing: Commuting and routine encourage podcast listening. Because these have been disrupted, so have podcast listens.

It should be noted, it’s very easy to fake subscriber data or know how many subscribers a podcast has, so if you notice someone getting record numbers, it might be completely fake.

When and Why Do People Listen?

The data seems to reinforce the same theory the association was already picking up on. Up to 37% of traffic is due to our work and commuting habits. Breaking out that data, 22% of traffic is in a vehicle, 4% is while using public transit and 11% is at work. But while it’s true 49% of podcast listening is at home, most of that traffic is 8 am and 11 pm, again suggesting a change in routine is to blame.

People aren’t getting ready for work and bed the same way they were last week. But this isn’t the only reason podcast listens are down during Covid-19. The other reason might be kids and food.

Kids and Food May Be Cutting Listener Numbers Down

A few members in the podcast association indicated that, even though they were working from home and not going out, their activity remained busy as kids remained home requiring attention and care. Listeners obviously have the same issues and some are even researching homeschooling methods and designing curriculum for their kids as well. (One member had a homeschooling blog and saw a spike in traffic.) But routine isn’t being disrupted just because of the kiddos. Food is also a reason podcast listens are down during Covid-19.

Many people aren’t going out to dinner, choosing instead to stay home and cook, driving up the share price of companies like Blue Apron. Cooking is a great family activity, requires prep, and requires cleaning. This takes extra time, but what of podcasting? As far as I know, family meals aren’t eaten while listening to the latest episode of The EntreLeadership Podcast.

Why Podcast listens Are Down During Covid-19

So, if you’re a podcaster like me, and fear the slump will continue, I urge you to keep creating. Numbers are down because routines have been disrupted. That’s not permanent. Americans and the rest of the world will get back into their routines soon, and when they do, they’ll be ready to catch up.


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