Spotify is the most popular podcast app in the US - but Apple users listen more

Amazon Music also more than doubled its podcast audience, according to Podtrac data

Audio giant Spotify was the top preferred podcast application for US listeners in January 2023, according to new data from podcast measurement data service Podtrac, despite Apple Podcasts having more downloads.

The data, which is based on share of total US audience and calculated across a database of 2 billion global downloads, was revealed at the 2023 Podcast Movement Evolutions four-day conference in Las Vegas that took place from 7 to 10 March, and was reported exclusively by PodNews.

According to Podtrac, the Swedish audio streaming platform was the most preferred podcast application with a third of US podcast listeners, which is a 21% increase in audience share for the platform since September 2021. Apple Podcasts followed closely behind as the second most preferred platform with a quarter of all US podcast listeners using it. There were no other major competitors to Apple and Spotify, with the next nearest application on the list, iHeartRadio, only amassing 6.2% of the audience share. 

Despite Spotify’s popularity amongst podcast listeners, however, Apple Podcasts remains the choice of podcast devotees, and had the most podcast downloads by a significant amount. It held 70.8% of all downloads - used here to refer to any request for episode audio - while Spotify only amounted to 8.9%. 

This disparity may be partly influenced by Apple Podcasts’ automatic download feature, which immediately saves new episodes for subscribed users. Apple Podcasts does not report on how many of these downloads are actually listened to, but PodNews estimates that 31% of them are not. Even so, Apple Podcasts retained a commanding lead in terms of the quantity of podcasts being consumed on its platform, with the average podcast listener requesting 28 episodes over January compared to just three for Spotify.

At Spotify’s recent annual Stream On event, in which the company revealed a number of user experience changes, partnerships and launches, the audio giant revealed that it will be adding a new auto-play feature on its application for podcasts to make it easier to listen to and discover new content. This, in turn, may increase the number of Spotify podcast downloads in the future. 

Amazon Music also experienced a significant increase since September 2021, with its audience share having gone up by 126% and download numbers swelling by 132%. The platform introduced ad-free listening in November 2022 to Prime members - including access to 1,000 Acast podcasts on its application as part of a partnership, premium episodes from The New York Times, NPR, CNN, ESPN and the full catalogue of Wondery podcasts, and exclusive original content. 

Other podcast applications that also saw a jump in audience share compared to 2021 include Google Podcasts, which increased by 920% despite continuing to have a low reach overall (3.6%) across the US podcast population. These numbers may also be affected in the future, however, as the company confirmed in February 2023 that it will be officially removing its playable podcasts feature on Google search and will instead offer a more personalised, singular feature called ‘What To Podcast’.