Are you curious about how your podcast is ranking around the world? What about how it’s performing in the podcasting space in general? Check out our tips below for how to read and understand podcast chart rankings and what they mean when it comes to your show’s success!
Some podcasters are completely content publishing their podcast online and letting it be, not checking any stats or caring much about how it’s performing on the charts. Others like to be more involved with the process and to keep tabs on the show’s performance with a global audience. They wonder, how is my show ranking? How are my listeners responding to it?
Chart rankings help us understand how a podcast is performing in a particular market or category in different regions. According to Apple, podcast charts are meant to help people find new shows to listen to by helping them explore rankings through various categories and filters. If someone is interested in a category like history or sports, they can browse the chart rankings of each respective category and find shows under the same topic.
So, what does this mean for someone who’s in the industry?
When a podcast hits the charts, it means it’s popular enough in that category and region to be listed as a top show. The charts often reflect long-standing popularity, as shows that have been around for a long time and have amassed a large following will likely rerank every cycle. This isn’t always the case, however, because the charts also reflect new podcasts that skyrocket in popularity right at their launch. In this case, we typically see their popularity wane in the coming weeks, drop in rankings, then slowly start to gain traction over time.
To track chart rankings, our most beloved tool is Chartable. Chartable is a website that displays not only its own rankings (using IAB V2-certified measurements), but also rankings from Apple Podcasts and Spotify, making it so you don’t have to go from site to site, tracking down rankings and comparing them one by one.
Chartable updates their rankings every Wednesday, so you can expect changes in your show’s categorial performance each week.
Keeping track of these rankings can help you adjust your content to appeal to your audience. This entails comparing what episodes were released and what chart rankings coincide with the time frame. If the spot dropped on the charts, there’s a chance that the audience didn’t tune in to the content that week.
Learning to navigate the charts and integrating the data into your content planning is essential for podcasting success.
Reading the charts seems overwhelming at first but it’s necessary to understand how they work so you can use this information to your advantage. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it with time and practice. While there is no blueprint available for the public to understand exactly how different podcast platforms rank their shows, here’s what we do know:
On the charts section of Chartable, there are three options to see chart rankings: Chartable, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify. Once you’ve made a selection, a list of countries and regions will be displayed. We prefer to use Apple Podcast’s data as it is the most easily understood by our range of clientele.
Chartable ranks podcasts by the region’s population size. What this means is podcasts that rank in the top 200 shows in the United States, even those that rank at the lower end, still rank higher in comparison to those that rank highly in countries like Montserrat, which has a lower population. The differences in population size can make chart rankings for the same podcast vary widely across different regions. One podcast that ranks as #150 in the United States might rank as #5 in Nepal. Knowing this can help to put things in perspective when reviewing the data.
The higher the podcast ranks on the charts, the bigger overall audience it has that regularly tunes in to each episode.
Keep in mind that just because you previously charted one month doesn't mean you will the next month. The charts change frequently and rankings are bound to move around.
Apple Podcasts determines chart rankings through various methods including when and how often listeners are tuning in, the number of follows a show receives, and when listeners complete an episode. They do not rank shows based on overall listening metrics like how many times the podcast has been listened to over its lifespan.
Spotify determines rankings based on listener behavior and changes in audience size, as well as overall follower count.
The charts are always changing and rarely stay the same. Some podcasts stay at the very top of the chart rankings (within the top 5 - 10) because they, more often than not, have a massive following. While chart rankings aren’t necessarily determined by cumulative downloads, having a big audience certainly helps. Another reason why these top podcasts keep their higher rankings is because they are consistent with what they post and when they post. Simply put, when podcasts don’t post consistently, they fall in ranks and lose loyal listeners.
The mid to lower sections of the chart rankings is where we tend to see the most scramble. This is where new podcasts hit the charts. Then if they follow the pattern, the newer podcasts drop off and have to build their audience until they get back on the charts. We also attribute this scramble at the mid and lower chart rankings to inconsistency. As mentioned above, when episodes aren’t posted regularly and on time, listenership drops. If you start to post content not centered around the show’s original theme, listenership drops. The podcasting game is really all about understanding your target audience and what makes them tune in to your content in particular.
Holidays are also notorious in the podcasting world for causing downloads to fall dramatically. People are busy during holidays and have time off of work, so in turn, they aren’t commuting to and from their jobs and aren’t listening to podcasts as frequently during this time. If your podcast dropped off the charts, make sure to factor in the timing and any holidays that could have caused the decline.
At the end of the day, the podcast chart rankings are dynamic and change often, so no slot is ever set in stone. If you charted one month but not the next, keep your head up and continue posting your original content regularly - you’re bound to find your way back to the ranks. On a last note, Chartable explains:
"Differences in podcast performance from week to week could be the result of industry trends, episode content, promotions you have run, special guests on your show, the combination of many factors, or seemingly nothing at all...Your best bet is to keep producing a wonderful show and encourage your listeners to get the word out!"