How Long Should a Podcast Be? – PCI 383

Don’t Put Too Much Thought Into Your Podcast Episode Length

Whether you’re a budding podcaster wondering how to pace your episodes or a seasoned listener curious about the behind-the-scenes decisions, this episode offers valuable perspectives on balancing content depth with listener attention spans. Join us as we unravel the art and science behind podcast lengths, ensuring your next listen or production hits the sweet spot.


Today’s Hosts: MacKenzie Bennett and Mike Dell

Podcast lengths can vary significantly, and the duration often depends on the content, format, and target audience.

As a friend of mine says “Podcasts are never too long, but are often too boring.” In other words, do not put 10min of good content into a 30 minute podcast episode.

Here are some of the things to think about when deciding how long your episodes should be.

Short-Form Podcasts:
Duration: Typically under 15 minutes.
Characteristics: Concise and focused on a single topic or idea. Ideal for listeners who prefer quick, digestible content.
Common Uses: Daily news updates, motivational quotes, language learning, quick tips or advice.

Standard-Length Podcasts:
Duration: Usually ranges from 20 to 40 minutes.
Characteristics: This length is often seen as the sweet spot for podcasting. It’s long enough to delve into a topic in some depth but short enough to retain listeners’ attention.
Common Uses: Interviews, discussions on specific topics, storytelling, educational content.

Long-Form Podcasts:
Duration: Generally over 40 minutes, often reaching up to an hour or more.
Characteristics: In-depth exploration of topics, detailed storytelling, extended interviews or conversations. Requires more commitment from listeners.
Common Uses: In-depth interviews, comprehensive discussions on complex topics, detailed storytelling, investigative journalism.

Episodic or Series Podcasts:
Duration: Can vary; each episode might be short-form, standard-length, or long-form.
Characteristics: Part of a series with a connecting theme or storyline across episodes. Can be released in seasons or as ongoing series.
Common Uses: Serialized storytelling (fiction or non-fiction), educational series (e.g., history, science), thematic investigations (true crime, social issues).

The Average Podcast Episode
As of April 2023, the most common length for a podcast episode tends to be around 20 to 40 minutes. This duration is often considered a sweet spot for several reasons:

Commute Compatibility: The average commute time in many countries falls within this range, making these podcasts ideal for listening during a commute.

Attention Span: This length is generally long enough to delve into a topic with sufficient depth while still being concise enough to maintain the average listener’s attention.

Production Feasibility: For podcast creators, producing episodes in this range is often a manageable task in terms of recording, editing, and maintaining consistent content quality.

Listener Engagement: This duration allows for meaningful engagement without overwhelming listeners with too much information or requiring a significant time commitment.

However, it’s important to note that the “ideal” podcast length can vary greatly depending on the content, format, and target audience. Some successful podcasts feature episodes that are significantly shorter (less than 15 minutes) or longer (over an hour). The key is to match the episode length to the podcast’s subject matter and the preferences of its intended audience.

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