Podcast downloads are down (again) thanks to iOS 17

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Staff Writer

Joined: Nov 2016

Apologies for sounding like a broken record, but the numbers are down again. This time by a lot, although that is not unusual for the end of the year. Podtrac reports that, among the top 20 publishers, downloads fell 19 percent month over month and down 24 percent year over year. The report states that the drop is “due largely to modified download behavior by iOS 17 as it continues to be adopted by podcast listeners.”

In September, Apple introduced iOS 17, which included a small change that has had a big impact on downloads. It used to be that if you subscribed to a show, forgot about it for a while, and then returned, all of the intervening episodes would download automatically. But iOS 17 has made it so downloads pick up where you left off without those automatic downloads. In the end, it is a good thing both for your phone memory and for advertisers who want a precise idea of who is actually listening to their spots. But for publishers, it is a correction that scales their overall metrics down in the short term.

How short term remains to be seen. As of November, Podtrac found that 75 percent of podcast listeners were using iOS 17, and that figure likely rose further in December. But the December number (19 percent decrease month over month!!) should be taken with a grain of salt. Listener habits are disrupted during the holidays, and Podtrac reported an 11 percent decrease month over month in December 2022. That said, even with last year’s December dip, downloads were up 2 percent year over year.

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