Even as the New York Times-produced The Daily remained No.1 for the 11th consecutive month in Podtrac’s September ranker of the most popular podcasts among publishers it tracks, there was a lot of movement below the top spot. This American Life and iHeartPodcast Network’s Stuff You Should Know continued their monthly back-and-forth in the No. 2 and No. 3 positions, as a similar situation developed at No. 4 and No. 5 as NPR’s Up First traded spots with The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro Show.
The big mover of month was Barstool Sport’s sex-charged Call Her Daddy, which jumped to No. 7 in September after coming in at No. 10 in August. The six-year old biweekly true-crime podcast Sword and Scale also made a return to the top 20 for a second time. It is a vote of confidence for Mike Boudet, who relinquished hosting duties earlier this year only to retake control in July.
Podtrac doesn’t publicly release specific listen 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 develop by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab. The IAB’s Podcast Measurement Technical Guidelines 2.0 change what 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.