Downloads: A Micro View

As expressed in our previous article about download numbers, we at Blubrry like to take a multifaceted assessment of every issue. At the same time we were looking at global download statistics (Click here for that assessment) we also requested feedback from individual podcasters. This offers a micro-level review of the COVID-19 effect on podcasting.

In late March we shared a poll on our Facebook feed that asked:

“Blubrry podcasters, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are you seeing your podcast stats increasing or decreasing?”

We offered three responses from which people could choose: whether downloads of their podcast increased, decreased or stayed the same. The results are surprising — about half of everyone who responded reported that their downloads were the same as they were four weeks ago. In other words, what we see on the news and what is taking up our social media feeds is not affecting the downloads of half of the podcast producers. The other half of the survey respondents were split equally. Half of those remaining reported their downloads were up and half reported their downloads were down. Below is a pie chart of these results.

Survey Results

These results are interesting. However, the sample size of this group was not statistically significant, so these percentages should be viewed as anecdotal. To add a personal perspective to these results, below are vignettes from three podcasters who responded to the survey.

We asked Carolynn ni Lochlainn from the Ancestors Alive! Genealogy, From Paper To People Podcast to further discuss why she responded that her downloads have stayed the same in recent weeks. She shared a little bit about her podcasting history and offered some details about her recent downloads. 

“I started my podcast at the beginning of January 2018. I was motivated by a couple of entrepreneurial friends who suggested having a podcast was a way to build up the video teaching series I started in 2017. I’m no longer sure that I want to release that video series, but the podcast has been a lot of fun! I really enjoy teaching newcomers genealogy and family history, and how to use online databases, genealogy websites, DNA, folklore, blogging, Twitter and cooperation to discover their own roots. I use lessons, interviews and examples of my own research to teach beginners how to take ancestors from names on paper to multidimensional people who lived, breathed, loved, lost and helped us to be who we are.”

Ms. ni Lochlainn shared that during this COVID-19 crisis she has seen a recent increase of 13%-25% in her downloads. However, this increase does not make up for a general dip in downloads since October 2019. Her numbers now are about the same as her numbers in late 2019, so she reported that her downloads are about the same (even though she has seen fluctuations over that time). 

Roderick Wilborn with the Anime Pad Podcast said he has seen a definite increase in his downloads. When asked to provide more detail about his podcast and the numbers he shared:

“I’ve been an anime fan since I was 6 years old. As I became an adult people would always talk with me about anime and other items of Japanese pop culture. Using that as my prompt, I started my blog, Anime Pad; my YouTube page, Express Team Wave (ETW); and my podcast. You usually don’t hear from African Americans in the anime space so I am unique.

“I have been podcasting since May of 2018. I try to create a space for Blerds (‘Black Nerds’) to discuss anime shows, manga, Tokusatsu, Japanese pop culture, Japan and conventions. I am proud to say that through my online efforts many anime voice actors, directors, animators, writers and loads of listeners are now my friends.

“When the news of COVID-19 broke I knew that people would be confined to their households and need entertainment, just like me. Coincidentally, just before the virus hit my show was accepted to Pandora and I released an episode recorded at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2). Since then I’m seeing a 100% increase in my daily downloads. It’s great that people are enjoying the podcast and maybe I can take their minds off the world for a while. Yet, I wish this was under different circumstances.”

John Wilkerson answered the Blubrry survey that he has seen a decrease in downloads. His detailed response is interesting. Wilkerson shared:

“I’ve been podcasting in various forms since 2005. The two podcasts with download changes I have noticed are The Wired Homeschool and Struggling for Purpose. The Wired Homeschool has actually seen a recent increase in downloads. However, I stopped producing the podcast back in July 2019 and just left the content available. Downloads (understandably) dropped until February. I saw a slight rise in downloads in February probably because parents began entertaining the possibility of having to homeschool their children. In March my downloads have tripled over February. Now download numbers for this show that I no longer produce are what they were before I ended the podcast.

“Struggling for Purpose has seen a recent decrease in the number of downloads. This podcast has seen about a 10% drop-off. This podcast is active and gets released every 10 days or so.”

Knowing just the aggregate number of podcast downloads only allows a partial view of COVID-19’s impact on podcasting. Reading the individual stories from podcasters also offers a compelling aspect of our current situation. The vignettes above offered just a few stories. How are you and your podcast doing? Please comment below and add your experience to the unfolding story of how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting podcasting.