I had a sense of who I was before I got famous – Joe Rogan
The cultural phenomenon that has taken over and conquered the airwaves, podcasting is the twenty-first entertainment behemoth that has completely changed how we listen to and think about radio.
It is a format that gave voice to the voiceless and enabled the masses to share their passions with the world. Podcasting subverted the anachronistic idea of radio that generations were raised on and transformed the medium, with a little help from the digital revolution, into a vital, constantly evolving format that has exploded and taken by the world by storm.
With over eight hundred and fifty thousand active podcasts and more than thirty million podcast episodes available through the internet, it’s all too easy to get lost in the noise and confusion of what is and isn’t available to listen to.
Given how many podcasters and podcasts there are, and knowing that the number of each increases weekly, it would be easy to assume that finding out which podcast reigns supreme over all the others might be a little difficult.
And even though it isn’t easy, it is possible to pin the tail on the number one podcasting donkey and find out which podcast is the current, all-conquering champion via the only way that matters, numbers.
Table of Contents
Who’s Tuning in?
Unlike traditional broadcasting, where the number of listers is collated while the show is being transmitted, podcasting relies on three different sets of numbers – active listeners, charts, and downloads.
All three help determine the popularity of a podcast and its place in the hearts and minds of the ever-expanding audience that gradually fills the aisles of podcasting land. Let’s start, with the most traditional idea, the number of listeners that a podcast has.
One of the easiest ways to measure a podcast’s popularity is by measuring its listener figures, which are posted by the streaming services that broadcast or stream those podcasts on their sites.
The results are always fascinating, as the ongoing struggle for the top spot always seems to be a four-way tie between The Daily, Call Her Daddy, The Michelle Obama Podcast, and The Joe Rogan Experience, all of which are available, on and in two cases, syndicated by Spotify.
The world’s largest audio streaming service, Spotify, offers an ideal means to extrapolate listener figures. It doesn’t offer its clientele the option to download a podcast, so the figures it publishes are based solely on people listening to the podcast as it streams on their service.
Spotify’s figures always give the edge to The Joe Rogan Experience, the most popular podcast on the service since it debuted on Spotify in September two thousand and twenty.
Having said that, Spotify isn’t the only streaming and music service that “broadcasts” and syndicates podcasts, and another of the biggest players on the global stage, Apple Music also has its own podcast charts, which paints a very different picture to Spotify of what the most popular podcast in the world is.
According to Apple Music, the most popular podcasts are Mommy Dearest, The Daily, The Bible In A Year, and Crime Junkie. Given that The Daily appears in the top four on both Apple and Spotify’s playlists, it would be easy to assume that it was the most popular podcast, but it isn’t quite that simple.
As The Joe Rogan Experience and The Michelle Obama Podcast are both Spotify exclusives, they’re not available to Apple Music’s audience and, as such, are part of their chart system.
While Apple Music does display the multi-platform appeal of The Daily, as some of the other most consistently popular podcasts have been rendered ineligible for inclusion due to the way the streaming services work, it’s still impossible to categorically state which podcast is the most popular.
Before we move on to the final decisive factor, it should be mentioned that even though it’s only the third most spoken language globally, English is by far the most popular podcasting language.
America is home to fifty-five percent of the global podcasting audience. When we add in the audience figures from the other English-speaking countries (Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Eire), that figure rises to over sixty percent, which skews the figure in favor of English language podcasts.
While it isn’t a completely decisive factor, it means the most popular podcast in the world is one that has been determined by English-speaking audiences.
The Numbers Game – Downloads
This is where the podcast popularity contest becomes a two-horse race between The Daily and The Joe Rogan Experience.
Before he signed his exclusive deal with Spotify, Joe Rogan’s show was regularly clocking up one hundred and ninety million downloads every month, which was four times the number that The Daily was getting, which on average was around forty-five million a month.
When you add the fact that The Daily has always published five episodes a week whereas Joe Rogan managed three at most, into the equation, it exponentially increases Rogan’s download lead over his New York Times rival.
However, that was then, and this is now, and as Rogan’s show is no longer available for download, and The Daily still is, it means that the Times daily briefing has taken the lead by a considerable margin.
And The Number On Podcast In The World Is…
Joe Rogan may have worn the crown out before he made his world record-breaking deal with Spotify, but now that his show is unavailable for download, it’s changed the podcasting pecking order completely.
Given its consistent daily download figures that top one million, and its position in both the Spotify and Apple Music top five most listened to podcasts, that accolade now belongs to the New York Time’s podcast that is designed to help its audience fully engage with the leading, and breaking, news and cultural affairs stories that shape the global stage, The Daily
What Is The Number One Podcast On Spotify?
The number one podcast on Spotify is The Joe Rogan Experience. Having consistently topped Spotify’s podcast charts since it made its debut on the streaming service in September two thousand and twenty, Rogan’s show has been one of the most popular and influential podcasts in the world for the last five years.
After signing an exclusive deal that was reported to be worth more than one hundred million dollars at the beginning of the same year, Rogan’s show made the exclusive move to Spotify.
With more than sixteen hundred episodes available and a global audience of around two hundred million fans, Joe Rogan’s show became famous for its hosts’ ability and willingness to speak to a wide cross-section of celebrities, authors, historians and scientists, and radical thinkers.
Rogan helped to popularize the format for a slew of podcasts that followed in his wake, hoping to capitalize and cash in his popularity. So far, none of the imitators have even managed to come close to gaining a fraction of his enduring popularity, which probably explains why Spotify was willing to pay him the gross domestic product of a small country to become an exclusive part of its broadcasting family.
What Is The Most Downloaded Podcast?
According to every available source, the most downloaded podcast of all time is Serial which ran for three seasons and published its last episode in two thousand and eighteen, Attracting more than four hundred and twenty million downloads, each of the three-seasons told a series-long non-fiction story that was based on the investigative journalism of Sarah Koening and Julie Snyder.
However, as there have been no new episodes of the podcast for three years, the most downloaded podcasts in the intervening period were The Joe Rogan Experience which as of September two thousand and twenty is no longer available for download, and The Daily, which continues to achieve monthly download figures that regularly number between twenty and thirty million.
While individual shows continue to achieve an increasingly high number of downloads, the consistency with which The Daily continues to perform and shatter podcasting download records can’t be ignored and has helped elevate it to the dizzying heights that it has reached.
What Types Of Podcasts Are The Most Popular?
A survey that was conducted in the United States of America, the country with the largest podcast audience share in the world, in October two thousand and twenty found that twenty percent of the audience demographic who regularly listened to podcasts voted for comedy and podcasts hosted by comedians as their favorite podcasts of choice.
While comedy topped the list of most popular podcasts, it was closely followed by health and fitness, true crime, and daily news and news shows. The latter subjects go some way to explaining the enduring popularity of The Daily, a current affairs show produced by The New York Times, and The Joe Rogan Experience – the host interviews and talks to a wide variety of guests.
Even though podcasts’ subjects and content are varied and vast, if you want to top the list of the most popular podcasts, it might be worth considering and embarking upon a second career as a stand-up comedian.