iHeartRadio on phone

Despite the seasonal dip in listening overall tied to the Christmas holiday, and four fewer active shows in its roster from a month earlier, iHeartRadio saw a 16% month-over-month increase in its downloads during December as it remained in the lead of Podtrac’s monthly ranking of top publishers. Podtrac says iHeartRadio had nearly 392 million global downloads and streams last month. And iHeart’s U.S. monthly unique audience was just shy of 32 million.

December was the 15th consecutive month it has led the ranking of publishers measured by Podtrac.

Second place NPR saw a five percent month-over-month increase in its downloads last month, totaling nearly 165 million. Wondery experienced a six percent drop in downloads but held onto third place with nearly 70 million downloads during December from 10.8 million unique listeners. The New York Times had an 11% jump in its downloads while its monthly audience dipped six percent from November to 8.8 million.

For the second consecutive month NBC News advanced one spot in December, this time putting itself into Podtrac’s top five. The measurement company says NBC’s unique reach increased two percent to nearly 8.1 million and its downloads increased nine percent to 57.6 million. That bumped The Walt Disney Co. – whose totals include the podcasts released by both ABC News and ESPN – back to sixth place as its unique reach fell seven percent to 7.7 million listeners last month. PRX remained in seventh place as its reach dropped 11% month-to-month.

The Cumulus Podcast Network was the biggest mover in the top ten as it advanced from No. 10 in November to No. 8 in December. Podtrac says Cumulus Podcast Network’s reach was essentially flat but its total streams rose four percent, despite having two fewer active shows compared to a month earlier.

American Public Media fell out of the top 20 during December while TED re-entered at No. 20 after getting knocked out a month earlier. No. 19 This American Life continues to hold on as the only free-standing show to make the monthly ranker. Podtrac says the show had 10.7 million downloads during December and a unique U.S. reach of roughly 3.1 million.

Overall, Podtrac reports the average publisher had a five percent month-over-month decrease in their U.S. unique monthly audience last month in part due to the Christmas holiday effecting normal listening patterns. The bright spot is that compared to a year earlier, December 2021’s unique reach for the top 20 publishers was up 20% versus December 2020.

Podtrac also reports four of the top 20 publishers posted an increase in their unique monthly U.S. audience in December compared to November – the rest were either down or flat.

In terms of downloads, Podtrac says global downloads for the top 20 publishers overall were up nine percent month-over-month during December. They were also up 19% from a year earlier.