Podcast listening is on the rise, and with the increasing number of ways to tune in to your favorite podcasts – whether that’s via an app or your Apple Watch – it’s no surprise. So what is the best way to listen to podcasts?
Mainly through podcast apps.
Apps for podcasts like Pocket Casts, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and more are making it easier and easier for listeners to press play no matter where they are. And with smartphone usage on the rise, the number of podcast apps – and their usability and features – will no doubt continue to rise.
Let’s take a look at the best way to listen to your favorite podcast right now.
Top Podcast Apps
Among the top podcasts apps are Apple, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Stitcher Radio, and the list goes on.
According to Statista, Apple Podcasts was the second most popular podcast app, behind #1 Spotify, in 2020. While 20% of podcast listeners said they used the app, Spotify came in first with 25%.
The Apple app is the only podcast app included in the study that had fewer listeners tuning in on the platform in 2020 over 2019 (20% versus 21% in 2019).
This app is probably the most common among Apple users since it comes pre-downloaded on all Apple devices, including the Apple Watch.
While I’ve attempted to dig into other podcast apps to listen to podcasts, Apple continues to get my vote for the best (and at times most frustrating) app.
Google Podcasts saw a huge jump in listeners in 2020 over 2019, nearly doubling in popularity from 9% in 2019 to 16% in 2020.
Google Podcasts has made a lot of upgrades over the last couple of years, including returning podcasts episodes in search results within the Google Chrome browser. This is a huge step for discoverability in the podcasting space!
Pocket Casts also saw an increase in listeners using the app from 2019 to 2020, doubling from 3% to 6%.
Pocket Casts does offer a lot of very attractive features on the platform, including an Up Next playlist and seamless connections to Sonos and Alexa.
Podcasts coming to Spotify is still somewhat new, although Spotify is proving they are in it for the long haul with exclusive podcasts like The Michelle Obama Podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, and more.
As the #1 podcast listening app based on the Statista study above, it might be an app to keep your eye on for future podcast listening.
Stitcher Radio also doubled its popularity as a podcast app in 2020 over 2019, raising from 3% to 6%. This may have had at least something to do with the additional of Stitcher Premium, which gives exclusive access to your favorite podcasts.
Many podcasts offer ad-free content on the app, while others offer additional content only available to Stitcher Premium members.
Listening to Podcasts
Another way to listen to podcasts is through podcasting apps built by – or for – the podcast host.
As an example, Entrepreneurs On Fire has its own podcast app built by Libsyn, our media host. This allows our listeners to download episodes or stream new episodes straight from their mobile device (in the Apple app store or on Google Play) without having to dig through an app with thousands (or millions) of other podcasts and distractions.
One downside to developing your own app for people to listen to your podcast episodes is that you miss out on the discoverability aspect of being on a bigger podcasting app. So making sure your audience still has a way to listen to your podcast on other podcast apps is important.
If you are interested in developing an app for podcasts that you host, a good place to start your research is with your media host.
Discoverability for new podcasts
As mentioned above, it’s important to make sure your podcast is available on multiple podcast app platforms so new listeners who don’t know about your podcast yet can find you.
This actually happens at the directory level.
Stitcher Radio, as an example, is a podcast app where you can listen to any number of podcasts, but it’s also known as a podcast directory. The way you submit your podcast for approval to be featured on the app is by submitting it to their directory.
Here’s a full list of the top podcast directories: where to submit your podcast, including instructions for how to submit to each one.
Best podcasts to listen to
Discoverability goes both ways – there is a benefit for both the host and the listener.
The benefit of listening to different podcasts through an app is that you’re able to discover brand new podcasts you may not have found otherwise.
Whether you find a new podcast based on your listening habits and the app recommending it, or you hear about a podcast from a featured section or advertisement, it’s all thanks to the podcast app serving it up for you.
So if you want to listen to the best podcasts, start with a simple search based on what you want to listen to. You can check out things like reviews, how long the podcast has been around for, or tune in to a trailer or introductory episode to see if it’s one you want to continue to listen to.
If you find a podcast you like, hit subscribe or follow the podcast so you always get new episodes.
Best podcast apps for iOS and Android
Let’s get device-specific here!
If you’re wondering what app you should use to listen based on the device you use, check out our post on the best podcast apps for iOS and Android!