Monday, February 24, 2020


Media Monitors reports are frequently sold
to governments and NGOs
Media Monitors [link] claims to be the nation’s leading network and local monitoring company. The Westchester-based company provides advertising agencies, government agencies and other companies with real-time intelligence on radio, television, cable, print and now podcasting.

Last week, Media Monitors released portions of a new study – Niche Podcasts Have More Listeners – accompanied by their new Top 25 Podcasts list [link]. 

The announcement received lots of coverage from industry news sources.

Podcasting has become a flourishing cottage industry. 

Ad revenues may exceed $1 billion in 2020. However, there is concern by some observers that current ways of measuring podcast listening are hurting the future growth of podcast advertising. 

Media Monitors describes the problem and their solution in a blurb on their website:

“There is not yet an agreed upon global chart that can act as a democratic arbiter of popularity and truth. As a result, Media Monitors decided to take a step back from metrics and reach out to listeners directly.”

Media Monitors bases it Top 25 podcast chart on listener preferences rather than clicks. We agreed with their logic until we reviwed their chart:

There are no podcasts published by NPR listed in Media Monitor’s Top 25.

On the right is our comparison of Media Monitors’ Top 25 and Podtrac’s January Top 20 podcasts. Scroll down to see both charts. The differences between the two charts are substantial.

Media Monitors does list several podcasts published by other public media organizations. But, podcasts by noncom publishers constitute only 28% of Top 25 list. By comparison, 60% of the shows listed on the Podtrac Top 20 chart are published by public media entities.

On the Podtrac list, there are nine (45%) podcasts listed that are published by NPR.  None of these shows are on the Media Monitors’ chart.

Though Podtrac’s charts are considered to be the de facto charts of record, Media Monitors finds flaws in their work. 

Certain popular podcasts, such as the Joe Rogan Experience. are not listed on Podtrac's charts.

Media Monitors describes additional problems and their solutions [link]:

"Podcast analytics and measurement remain as silo-ed as ever."

"Podtrac, is a third-party chart based on downloads and unique audience gleaned from redirect links."

"Podtrac only lists publishers that agree to use Podtrac’s prefix on their RSS feed.”

“[Some Vendors such as} Chartable instead provide a side-by-side comparison of first-party charts from iTunes and Spotify — charts that only represent the respective platform’s user base”.

“There is not yet an agreed upon global chart that can act as a democratic arbiter of popularity and truth. As a result, Media Monitors decided to take a step back from metrics and reach out to listeners directly.”


Media Monitors commissioned an outside vendor, Precision Sample, to provide them with potential participants for the survey. According to the report, there were 961 people  who said that they had listened to a podcast in the prior seven days. The survey asked people on the panel to say, unaided, the podcast(s) that they had listened to.

The survey was in the field between January 5 and January 8. 

But, key details about it are not provided, including:

• They don't say if the survey was conducted online, via telephone interviews or in person interviews.

• They provide no breakouts of the ages and genders of the respondents
other than saying “The respondents skewed younger, the overwhelming majority between the ages of 16 and 30.”

• There is no information about where people in the sample were located, other than vague information like “the top respondent locales included California, Virginia (DC included), Texas, New Jersey, Florida, New York, and Georgia.”

• No details were provided about income level or education level of the respondents.

Perhaps the most telling error was confusion about the number shows on the  chart. 

Media Monitors' press release and promo material call the chart “Top 25 Podcasts.” 

Then, later in the press release, they call the chart the "Top 100 Podcasts." The Top 100 chart wasn't available. Perhaps it is behind the pay-wall.

It appears that almost everything is behind the pay-wall at Media Monitors. The Media Monitors’ survey is an attention getting effort intended to bring in new clients. It is not a solution to anything. In fact, it further muddies the water for people trying to make a living while working in podcasting.

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