According to Podtrac Analytics [link], creators of the de facto “ratings of record” for the podcast industry, the top show publishers are reaching an increasing number of estimated listeners. In Podtrac’s February rankings of podcast publishers, every one of the biggest providers had gains in Unique Monthly Audience (think of it as a “monthly cume”) compared with data from February 2017.
NPR had the largest numeric gain in audience, up 6,951,000 listeners in the past year. The New York Times, powered by the popularity of The Daily, was up 74% in February 2018, the largest percentage gain. WNYC Studios, PRX and This American Life each had double-digit gains.
Keep in mind that Podtrac’s chart are still a work in progress. Some observers have said that iHeartMedia’s shows aren’t actually podcasts when compared with episodic shows such as Serial or Radiolab.
Also, some podcast publishers don't share their data with Podtrac and are not listed in the company's rankings.
FEBRUARY NIELSEN PPM RATINGS ARE A MIXED BAG FOR NPR NEWS/TALK STATIONS
February 2018 is 15 months after the 2016 election, the news event that prompted historic growth in estimated weekly listeners to NPR News/Talk stations. For example, in the four markets we are examining today, WNYC-FM set what may be a new record high in the category, up 10% from February 2017.
However, a downward trend in weekly listeners, compared to a year ago, was seen at WBEZ (down 17%), WAMU (down 15%), KCRW (down 12%). These three stations have fallen to pre-2016 election numbers.
Another trend we are watching is the performance of Educational Media Foundation’s (EMF) K-Love stations on big new sticks in Los Angeles and now Chicago. Results so far are falling well below expectations.
In New York, Triple A WFUV had big gains in estimated weekly listeners, up 20% from February 2017.
WBGO continued its decline in weekly listeners, down 17% in the past year.
WQXR was also down a bit.
We are watching EMF’s K-Love affiliate KKLQ with an eye on Chicago.
KKLQ has one of the best coverage areas in the market but it is a mere shadow of its predecessor KWSD The Sound.
KWSD typically attracted between 1.2 to 1.6 million estimated weekly listeners each month.
Folks who thought that K-Love would attract a similar number of listeners are likely disappointed with KKLQ’s 370,900 weekly listeners in February 2018. Perhaps K-Love is a paper tiger.
Also in the Southland, NPR News/Talk KPCC is still attracting near record numbers of estimated weekly listeners. Classical KUSC was also up. What we want to see soon are the Nielsen Audio numbers for Triple A 88.5 FM KCSN.
EMF’s surprise purchase of WLUP The Loop recently has started speculation about how K-Love will do on a full-market facility in Chicago. February 2018 was the last full month for The Loop. They attracted 1,190,400 estimated weekly listeners. Will the new K-Love WCKL even come close to that number? We doubt it.
What is going on at WAMU? The station has fallen back to pre-2016 election performance and we can’t explain it.
In 2017, WAMU beat WTOP in both average-quarter-hour share and weekly cumulative listeners.
That was then, this is now.
Commercial News/Talk giant WTOP, perhaps the best commercial station of its type in the nation, now leads WAMU in both categories. In the February 2018 Nielsen PPM ratings WTOP had 1,175,800 estimated weekly listeners. WTOP had an AQH share of 10.2, compared to WAMU’s 9.2.