True Crime Podcasts Trends in 2020

What Changed Over the Past 3 Months

Podcasters are consistently looking for ways to grow their download numbers. The download is a metric that is used to dictate how much ad revenue a podcast can generate.

Some podcasts want to be the next hit  like Serial, while others are interested in covering their costs and serving their audience. Regardless of your intention, we wanted to share how downloads directly impact a podcast’s ability to climb the charts.

Thanks to Chartable, Podfluence tracked podcast download movement in Q1 (Jan-March) of 2020. We focused our efforts specifically on true crime, because, well that’s our thing!

We broke down the top 100 downloaded podcasts in January and then analyzed their movement up and down the charts.

Top 100 True Crime Podcasts in January:

By breaking down podcasts into different categories,  we were able to look at the podcasts in a few different ways—were the pods weekly episodes or segmented into seasons? Additionally, what sub-genre did the podcast fall into? What was the length of the pod? and What studio produced the podcast.

Single Season Podcasts and Recurring Podcasts

One of the major factors in true crime podcasting is the format. A true-crime podcast falls into one of two buckets – recurring or single-season pods. In January, we saw an even split between recurring podcasts and single-season pods. 50% were one-season shows and 50% were recurring

True Crime Sub Genres

Although there is one true crime genre, we understand there are several sub-genres. At Podfluence, we have identified three major true-crime sub-genres: Comedy (ex. My Favorite Murder), Investigative (ex. Serial), & Narrative (ex. Crime Junkie). 

True-Crime Comedy podcasts accounted for 6 podcasts, and then there is an even split between investigative podcasts and narrative podcasts.

 Network Relationships

If you have a podcast you either produce it yourself, or with a network. There were 36 independent podcasts, 12 [produced by new publications (not major ones) and the remaining were produced by large studios and networks.

Podcast Episode Length

70% of podcasts were under an hour and about 25% were under 30 minutes

What Changed? 

During the first quarter, we tracked podcasts movement each week using the Chartable API. To no surprisoe, pods fluctuate in downloads. We found 36 podcasts which were on the top 100 in January did not spend more than 50% of their time in the top 100 during Q1.

●        36 Podcasts showed a downward download trend and then fell off the charts signfigiantly

o   24 of these podcasts were identified as  investigative podcasts

o   25 of these podcasts were produced by a major studio or news publication

New Guys In Town

●        36 New Podcasts on the top 100

o   Half of these pods were investigative and half were narrative podcasts

o   13 podcasts are independently produced (+4 net increase)


Podfluence Insights:

Independent podcasts take longer to gain downloads. They tend to focus on grass root campaigns and building their audience. We recently sat down with Going West about their own experience— they are now a top 100 podcast!

Podcasts backed by major studios and news publications have larger resources to attract downloads. Some leverage their pods within networks to cross promote, while some even take out ads. However, in Q1 we saw podcasts pop up and then quickly fall off the charts. The trend over the first quarter was a growth in independent podcasts and a decrease from investigative podcasts. The biggest take away in next quarter will be if these narrative podcasts (most released weekly) stay on the charts or if there is a fall.

This is our first quarterly report, and we plan to continue to build it out. Shoot us a message if you have questions or looking for more information.

Thanks to Chartable for their help in gathering the data and helping to bring insights.


Podfluence Founder
About the Author
My name is Chris and I'm a co-founder at Podfluence. I love true crime podcasts and following this industry.

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