For months we’ve tried to keep quiet about the brand new statistics section we’ve been building for you, and now we’re finally able to say, it’s here!
If you haven’t seen it yet, you should really take a moment to login to your account and check it out for yourself. All the data from your past episodes is already in there, so you will be floored. We’ll wait here.
If you’ve already clicked around and want to know more about how to use them, we’ve created help articles to show you the ropes in just a few minutes. You can find those here.
What You’ll Learn from This Post
This post is an explanation of the new statistics section, why we created it the way we did, what purpose the numbers serve, and answer the most important question when it comes to podcast statistics, “How do the numbers help me podcast better?”
A Short Back Story
For over five years, we’ve been hosting and publishing podcasts following a simple philosophy: to take what can be a complex process and make it easy, so anyone can podcast. Providing the tools needed, when they’re needed, and always asking ourselves, “How can we make it simpler and better?”
Our statistics have always reflected this. In the beginning, we intentionally excluded a lot of numbers that are best described as, “vanity statistics.” These are numbers that make a podcaster feel good, but don’t answer any real performance questions and/or provide an accurate understanding of how the show is going.
We focused our initial stats offering around episode play counts. We implemented some tech to weed out false plays and concentrated our efforts around providing an accurate measure of how your latest episode was being received, how that related to previous episodes, and if your play count was trending up or down over time.
These were the most accurate and actionable numbers we could report without bogging you down in statistical number-soup.
What Went Into Creating the New Stats
These were all things we kept in mind while creating this new statistic section. For months we researched and discussed what other numbers are important, how can we clearly communicate them, what are they telling you, and most importantly, how are they going to help you make your podcast better.
The easy solution is to provide a bunch of numbers and give you the ability to filter them in various ways. That approach, while easy on us, didn’t align with our goal of making something complex - simple. Displaying numbers that can’t quickly be parsed and drive action is rarely helpful.
We needed to find a way to report the most important numbers in a way that helped a podcaster measure effectiveness and create better episodes moving forward.
To do this, we approached the project from a different perspective. The standard technical solution would involve figuring out all the data that could be captured and then build an interface to display/sort/filter it, but that wouldn’t work.
Instead we walked through scenarios a podcaster might face and what kind of information could lead to creating more valuable content. In the end, we landed on 6 fundamental questions that needed to be answered with our podcast statistics.
6 Fundamental Questions Podcasts Statistics Need to Answer
1. How many plays / unique downloads do my episodes have? The number of unique listens an episode received.
2. Is this above or below my current average? This gives an episode’s play count more value by comparing it to a show’s average play count.
3. Where on the web are people listening (play source)? Are the plays coming from iTunes, Facebook, an embedded player, your Buzzsprout site, or somewhere else? This stat is helpful to show which promotional efforts are doing the best.
4. What device/browser are they using? The answer to this question gives an understanding of how people are listening to a show - whether they’re on a mobile device or using their desktop to listen.
5. Where are people listening from (geographic location)? Knowing where an audience listens is the final piece to understanding how a show’s listenership is expanding througout a city, state, country or globe.
6. How many plays can I expect for my next episode (listeners)? A prediction for how many plays the next episode will have after it’s published (this number is explained below).
Apart from the last one, these are all very simple questions. As was said before, it’s because they’re pretty fundamental. Whether you know it or not, these are the questions you’ve been asking and looking for answers to. In themselves, they’re simple, but working out how to track and display the numbers that answered them was definitely not easy, but it was definitely rewarding.
The sixth question is the one that warrants an explanation, along with one for a question that is conspicuously missing, namely, “How many people are subscribed to my podcast.” There are good explanations for both of these.
How many plays can I expect for my next episode?
Having statistics that show episode play counts is a starting point for extrapolating the overall growth or decline of a podcast, but that leaves the hard work to the podcaster - you. Having a statistic that actually predicts the play count for the next episode is a whole different story. This is the number we wanted to create, because it will give the best representation of the overall trend of a podcast.
We call this number “Listeners.” It displays how many plays (unique downloads) can be expected for the next episode, within its first 90 days of life. The calculation for Listeners is not something we share publically, but it’s based on a podcast’s historical data and gets more accurate with each new published episode.
This is a very exciting number, we’re predicting the future after all, but more than that, this number goes a long way towards solving the statistics problem that asks, “How big is my audience?” It’s also a new concept and something only Buzzsprout is providing.
If you’d like to know more about how to use the listener count, please visit this help article Listener Count or shoot us an email.
What about the subscriber count?
There are many podcasters who still want to know how many people are “Subscribed” to their show. Because the term “subscribed” worked in the blogging industry, and was adopted by iTunes, podcasters felt that this number should carry over to podcasting as a measure of a show’s loyal following.
Unfortunately, this statistic was never meant to provide this type of detail for the podcaster, the result has been a muddied statistic riddled with approximation. The question that has risen in its importance is: how many people are listening to my episodes. This is the number a podcaster should use to determine the health of a show.
Of course, the idea of subscribers is so fundamental that we knew we couldn’t tackle our position in just one post. If you’d like to know more about our full philosophy when it comes to subscribers, please read this article: Podcast Subscribers: These are not the statistics you’re looking for.
Just because you’re seeing these new statistics now doesn’t mean we’re completely finished with them. We’ll always be finding better ways to give you the information you need to make hosting your podcast easier for you. In the days, months and years to come, we hope to bring keep bringing you simpler and better tools for making your podcast the best it can possibly be.
If you have any questions, we’d love to answer them. Just shoot us an email when you’re able.
The Buzzsprout Team