Downloads: Up or Down?

In the past few days, several reputable sources for podcast information have shared inconsistent reports about how the current COVID-19 crisis is affecting podcast downloads. While one article reports downloads are down, another publishes that downloads are not affected and another shares that downloads are increasing.

At Blubrry, we take a multifaceted assessment of every issue. We decided to look into download numbers as compared to four weeks ago in a variety of ways. Let us look at an assessment of the aggregate number of downloads across the Blubrry directory. This will allow us a high-level view of the effects of our current situation on podcasting.

Yes, we can confirm that the average daily downloads of podcasts have slightly decreased in March as compared to February. What is surprising is the scant amount of change. Total downloads were only down one-half of 1%. To put this in a non-technical context. Recite to yourself what you can remember from the Gettysburg Address. There is not much to remember, only 267 words with 1,467 characters (including spaces). “Foursco” is .5% of Abraham Lincoln’s most memorable speech. As you can see, the overall size of the February to March decrease in podcast downloads is de minimis.

A closer look inside the aggregate data reveals some points to consider.

  • The last week of March saw the sharpest decline compared to the previous weeks in the month. Unfortunately, a sample size of one week is too small to extrapolate anything meaningful.
  • We can confirm an uptick in podcast consumption on weekends.
  • Podcasts in the Sports category have decreased, understandably.
  • Podcasts in the Religion category have increased.

We will continue to look at aggregate downloads here at Blubrry and whether the fluctuations listed above build into trends. We will keep you informed.

In conclusion, let us again revisit Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The beauty and pointiency of that address lives in the larger 99.5 percent of the work and not in the first .5 percent. If we as a community of content creators and producers focus only on the .5 percent decrease in downloads we are at risk of missing what is going right in podcasting currently.

To that end, our next post will look at how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting podcasting from another perspective. We will look at the results of our recent Facebook Poll and share some individual podcaster’s experiences. Stay tuned…