Popular Podcast Genres – What The Stats Tell Us

Apr 28th

During Q3-Q4 of 2022, Edison Research delved into the genres most likely to place a show in the top 200 charts in the U.S. In this article, we’re analysing the findings and what they mean for podcasters. So, let’s get into it. 

The research

Rather than simply totting up the different shows in the top 200, Edison Research calculated “batting averages” for each genre. They explained, “Baseball batting averages are calculated by dividing the number of hits into the number of at-bats; this podcast genre “batting average” is calculated by looking at the number of times a genre appears in the top 200 (its hits) divided by the number of times a genre appeared in the top 20,000 (its at-bats).” 

Here’s what they found: 

It’s worth noting that Edison also explained that “podcast averages are ‘low’ compared to baseball, and this is because there are so many more podcasts. In other words, if we look at the top one per cent of shows, an equal distribution would mean that 1% of the titles in that category should be in the top 200.”

Popular podcasting genres

As you can see from the results, true crime comedy and news dominate the charts regarding the number of shows and offer the best batting average. But that’s not to say they’re the best choice of genre to create a charting podcast. Take society & culture, for example, with 20 shows in the top 200. 

If you look at the top shows on the Spotify and iTunes charts in the U.K., you’ll see it’s similar to the U.S. with a mixed bag of genres, with pop culture featuring heavily in the top 20. 

A survey of 2,000 adults in the U.K. commissioned by Vodafone found that comedy (30%), entertainment (25%), sport (23%) and true crime (19%) were voted the most popular podcast genres overall. 

Here’s how other genres rank in the U.K.:

  • News 18%
  • Health and Fitness 16%
  • Politics 15%
  • Personal development 14%
  • Pop culture 14%
  • Drama 12%

What the research means for podcasters

But what do these findings mean for podcasters? Here are some key takeaways: 

  • Comedy shows dominate the charts, with a batting average of 2.7%. So, while it’s a saturated category, if you’ve got a great show, there’s a demand for comedy; this is reflected in both the U.S. and U.K. findings.
  • While you may think it’s best to opt for a show with less competition, such as T.V. & Film, Leisure or Education, these findings highlight a need for further research to ensure demand. 
  • Genres like science and history have less competition in the charts but good batting averages.
  • True crime and comedy are the most popular genres in the U.S. and among the top 4 in the U.K. The research suggests that listeners are turning to podcasting for escapism and entertainment. 
  • News podcasts also rank well in both countries as podcasting becomes a major news source; read more in our recent article

If you’re wondering which podcast genre you should lean into, there’s no definitive answer from these findings. So, whether you opt for a popular category with more competition or a less saturated genre that you can cut through more easily, podcasting success isn’t purely down to genre. 

Instead, the primary takeaway is this: there is demand for various genres in the U.S., U.K. and globally. When analysing data and charts, it’s clear to see listeners are looking for authenticity, relatable hosts, trusted voices, and predictability. So, here’s what you should be prioritising if you want your podcast to chart: 

  • A consistent release schedule
  • Reactive content
  • Know your genre inside out! 
  • Be authentic and relatable 
  • Understand your audience

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