The latest data point showing podcast listening habits are returning to normal — as more of America reopens and lockdowns are less stringent — comes from Libsyn. During the past three weeks it has seen a smaller decline in how downloads for shows on its platform are performing during mid-week — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — compared to its baseline in January. On the latest episode of the company’s The Feed podcast, Libsyn VP Rob Walch said midweek listening for the week of May 10 was down 11.2%. That compares with a 16.3% decline during the week of May 3 and a 17.2% decline during the week of April 26. “That was by far the lowest drop for Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday since this all started, so things are trending better,” he said.
Walch said he also is encouraged by the Mobile Trends Report from Apple, which has shown how the coronavirus is affecting travel and commuting. The most recent data shows driving trends are down 20% to 25% compared with a 50% drop seen in early April. He noted Transit requests were only slightly improved, which means when people start to venture out they’re doing so in their own car rather than public transit.
Overall, Libsyn says downloads to the more than 69,000 podcasts it hosts directly to mobile devices slipped a bit during April. The mobile downloads represented 87.1% of all downloads compared with 87.7% in March. At the same time, desktop downloads and streams for Libsyn-hosted shows increased to 12.7%, which was a 0.7% month-to-month gain. “Those changes definitely had to do with COVID-19 and people staying home,” said Walch. The tally also shows that downloads to smart speakers and gaming devices totaled 0.28% in April, even with a month earlier. “People didn’t go from listening on their phone to listening on their Echo; they went from listening on their phone to listening on their computer,” he said.
Libsyn reported 58.4% of April downloads of the shows it hosts went to listeners in the U.S., followed by the U.K. (5.6%), Canada (5.3%), Australia (3.8%), Sweden (3.4%), Germany (3.2%), France (1.7), Brazil (1.5%), Mexico (1.3%) and Japan (1.2%).