How to optimise your podcast publishing to help grow your audience

Sport audio expert Jim Salveson, Director of Sport at Voiceworks who operate the Social Podcast Network, shares his tips and tricks on how to best engage your audience through your podcast publishing strategy.

Over the last twelve months, Sport Social Podcast Network (SSPN) – a platform for all things sports audio, whether fan-created or club owned – has experienced dramatic growth to four million podcast downloads a month and counting. It shows the incredible power of audio when it comes to connecting with sports fans and communities across the globe. Not only this, but our rapidly growing downloads have allowed us to dig deeper into how listeners behave when consuming podcasts.

A key pattern we’ve spotted concerns ‘peak’ download times for podcasts and for those (like me) who come from a radio background, there is a familiar trend. Generally speaking, radio listening time graphs have the appearance of a suspension bridge (think the Golden Gate bridge). You’ll see two peaks, one around the morning and another during the afternoon commute – known as your breakfast and drive programmes.

Our listening data* shows that the pattern for podcasting downloads is very similar – albeit slightly earlier in the day than a traditional radio audience. Podcasts have become as much of the fabric of our days as the breakfast and drive programmes.

Like radio, in podcasts, Mondays are key. Audiences are setting out their listening for the week, with downloads peaking between 4am and 9am (GMT). SSPN’s data shows that this tails off slightly as the day goes on, before reaching a late afternoon peak between 4pm and 6pm. We see these peaks continue through the week, with a slowly downwards sloping graph towards the weekend, where numbers become pretty flat across the day (and drop to around 50% of weekday audiences).

podcasting listening data

It’s possible that this data is influenced, in some capacity, by release schedules. Many shows choose Monday morning as the ideal time to release new content (and auto-download features inflate those download numbers) but these trends are supported by some of the information we already have on listener behaviour.

podcast download time of day

The 2022 Ofcom Podcast Survey showed that podcast listening (amongst those who listen at least once a month) was very strong when participating in activities that relate to working life and/or the commute. Some of the key stats from the report include how 38% of podcast listeners consume content whilst walking, 35% choose to engage whilst travelling by car, and 30% listen whilst on public transport.

It should come as no great surprise that audiences are making content decisions during “downtime” and before periods of activity such as work, but there are still some key lessons we can take away when it comes to your publishing schedule:

  1. Publish early! Whatever your release day, make sure your show is published first thing. Your audience is making decisions on their listening as soon as they wake up, so be there when they are looking for shows.
  2. In terms of weekly scheduling, remember that not everyone hates Mondays… Audiences make decisions on their weekly listening at the start of the week so publishing early on can help drive listener figures. In line with this, don’t drop new content on a Friday. If you do, it’s likely to not gain any real traction until Monday morning, by which time it could become buried by other new releases.
  3. It’s also still important to drive subscriptions. It’s become a bit of a podcasting cliche to remind people to subscribe to your podcast but it’s still important to spread awareness and drive interest this way. Having a new show, ready to go in your favourites on a Monday morning makes that listening decision even easier.

Whilst delivering shows that listeners love is one of the most important aspects of growing your audience, don’t downplay the role that your publishing strategy can play in this. And when it comes to this strategy, you ultimately should aim to shape it around your listener’s schedules – whether it’s the morning commute, or the Monday rush. Meet them where they’re at, when they’re ready to delve into your show.

*Stats taken from SSPN data, and may be influenced by a largely 25-45 male audience

About Sports Social Podcast Network

Sport Social is a global sports podcast network. It enables brilliant sports podcasts to grow and gives creators the value they deserve from their content.

The platform provides its podcasts access to consultancy, monetisation, hosting, analytics and cross-promotion opportunities – everything they need to grow their audiences and deliver even better content.

With shows about almost every sport you can think of, Sport Social Podcast Network’s growing community includes Wisden Cricket Weekly and Torquing Point.

Sport Social is backed by Communicorp UK, which is home to some of the most exciting brands in UK radio. Proud to be headquartered in the heart of Manchester, a city globally renowned for creativity and collaboration, its partners and communities are spread around the world.

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