October marked one year for the New York Times-produced The Daily as the most listened to podcast, according to Podtrac. But the monthly ranker shows the daily news podcast battle may be heating up. The NPR-produced Up First had its best showing to date, rising two positions to rank No. 2 last month. The gap may close further as NPR has just expanded its morning news podcast with the launch of a new Saturday morning edition that will allow the brand to grow its monthly audience. Podtrac says iHeartPodcast Network’s Stuff You Should Know remained in third place last month, while This American Life was No. 4, a position swap with Up First. The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro Show was steady, once again rounding out the top five.
The October top 20 also included two new entrants from NBC News, both of which are rebroadcasts of television shows. The Dateline NBC podcast ranked No. 18 while the Rachel Maddow Show replay was No. 19. The list also included a reentry as PRX’s The Moth Podcast moved up one spot to No. 20.
Podtrac doesn’t publicly release specific listener numbers for individual shows and it only includes publishers who have signed up for the service. That means its monthly ranker doesn’t include the full universe of podcasts, including some that may have more listeners than what appears on its list.
Podtrac’s numbers reflect an update made in April to the measurement algorithm that calculates unique downloads. It was brought about by Podtrac’s embrace of standards developed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab. The IAB’s Podcast Measurement Technical Guidelines 2.0 changedwhat counts as a download. For example, in the past, if someone were to listen to a podcast, press stop, then play again, that would count as two downloads. Now, it counts as one. Plus, someone needs to listen for a full 60 seconds before it counts as a download. Podtrac has said that most podcasters didn’t see a “substantial” change in their unique monthly audience numbers, however download numbers mostly declined because of the new guidelines.