So Who’s Listening To This Podcast, Anyway?

The First Forty-Five Days—How Does Our Audience Add Up?


According to Libsyn, “The median number of downloads for an episode that has been live for 30 to 60 days is around 160.” The key word here is ‘median’. Libsyn is talking about the average show, not the average number of downloads.  Otherwise, shows in the top 1%, like Serial with a whopping 40 million downloads in 2014, would spiral that number upward.  Likewise, it’s important to recognize that Libsyn is evaluating Libsyn’s numbers, and Libsyn is not a free RSS provider, like  I suspect that if we looked at all podcasts from the top ten RSS providers, that the number would skew down.

So how is Say Hello to Black Jack doing by comparison to the average podcast?  In the first 45 days of launch, SH2BJ received 361 downloads.  More than double the mean, putting us solidly above the average podcast (but well below the top 10% of podcasts, which bring in 5,000 downloads within a month after the release of a new episode.  We got a way to go before we hit that level.)

All things considered, that’s a really good start for my first solo project.  Oh sure, Jeff and I have been podcasting for years.  But while I might do occasional writing, research or pick up a side project or two, Jeff was doing the lion’s share of the work when it came to editing, interviews, and promotion.  Ultimately, Power to the Meeple and Nerd Fountain were more his shows than mine.


On Audience Retention

More numbers!  Here’s a breakdown of downloads by episode:




(It’s currently April 2nd.  Don’t read too much into the ‘low’ April numbers.)

That’s 305 downloads for episode one, then a steep drop to 59 downloads for episode two.  That’s reasonable.  A number of listeners are going to try out the show and decide it’s not for them.  I hold out that there are many people who downloaded the first episode, but have yet to listen to it, and won’t listen to it for a number of months until their podcast queue depletes.  I know that happens to me.

But there’s no need to get all sour grapes on these numbers.  Most of the difference between episode one and two are people we lost immediately, and that makes sense.  Episode one is problematic in that it starts slow.  I could have begun the show in the middle of the action, but I wanted to follow Sato’s original work tightly.  Since Sato started slow, I started slow.  I’m sure it worked better for him, since readers that were bored could flip and see the action coming.  And since his manga was originally serialized in a magazine, many of his readers picked up the action in a subsequent random episode.  Audio drama is more restrictive.  Most listeners will travel the length of episode one through to subsequent episodes.  I’m sure we lost some of these listeners right in the first two minutes.

What I’m impressed by, however, is the level of retention after the drop off.  59 downloads for episode two, 56 downloads for episode three, and 53 downloads for episode four.  One would think this happened because listeners downloaded all four episodes at the same time.  But the episodes were staggered on release.  There were only 79 downloads since episode four released six days ago, and 53 out of the 79 were downloads for episode four itself.  If a listener decided they liked SH2BJ (or were at least curious enough to listen to the next episode) we kept that listener.  That’s awesome.  Welcome to the show, regular listeners!  I would rather entertain a small dedicated group, then wave my hands around to distract a less dedicated, broader audience.

This is a good start.  I think most podcasters imagine the possibility of immediate wild success, but that was never going to happen with the weirdo product our medical-manga-audio-drama is.  But we’re on track for a lot of growth.  And I want to see this show grow.  More people need to be exposed to oddball shows like this one.  If you like the show, tell people about it.  The more people who know about this show, the more likely we are to finish the entire series.  That’s how it works, ayup, ayup.


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