The Right Pitch: A Look into the Popularity of Podcast Hosts by Gender
Do Top Podcasts Feature More Male or Female Voices?
Podcasting was first developed in 2004 by Dave Winer and Adam Curry. Podcasts were made free to download, which meant that radio-lovers could tune in to their favorites any time they wanted. Content creators had an easy time as well since producing audio content is inexpensive and relatively painless.
But how did podcasts get to the 62 million weekly listeners they have today? We can thank Sarah Koenig.
Koenig collaborated with WBEZ Chicago to produce and host Serial, a true-crime podcast that, unlike other podcasts at the time, told ongoing stories over multiple episodes. Released in October of 2014, the podcast had over five million downloads by the end of the year. From there, advertisers began jumping on board, motivating more and more production companies to get into the game.
We were curious: do most top-rated podcasts have male or female hosts? Also, which gender do audiences prefer? To answer that question, it’s helpful to see just how podcasts came to dominate entertainment.
Podcasting by Gender:
Who is Behind the Mic, and What Do Audiences Prefer?
Most Popular Top-Rated Podcasts by Gender
NPR’s Code Switch, which Gene Demby hosts, is the most popular podcast overall. Following that is The New York Times’ The Daily with Michael Barbados and The Joe Rogan Experience with Joe Rogan.
Even though most of the top-rated podcasts feature male hosts, female-led podcasts still account for 50% of the top ten top-rated podcasts. To name a few, The New York Times's 1619 with Nikole Hannah-Jones, Crime Junkie with Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat, and Barstool Sports’ Call Her Daddy hosted by Alexandra Cooper made the cut.
Both Male and Female Hosts
Seldom podcasts cohosted by a man and woman made the cut as a top-rated podcasts—in fact, every podcast in the top twenty except Crime Junkie contains only one host (with the exception of Call Her Daddy which previously had two female hosts). Despite bleak stats, Pod Save America, hosted by both Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor, is the fourteenth most popular podcast overall.
Gender and Genre
When it comes to sports, 58% of men that listen to podcasts prefer listening to a male voice. When it comes to true crime podcasts, 60% of female listeners claim they don't have a strong preference for the hosts' gender, compared to only 40% of men that listen to podcasts claim the same.
59% of male respondents prefer their comedy hosts to be male, while only 41% of male respondents claim they’d prefer a female-led comedy podcast host.
Of the people who don't have a strong preference on host gender for lifestyle podcasts, 67% are female and 33% are male. 69% of female respondents that listen to podcasts prefer female-led lifestyle podcasts, and 64% of male respondents that listen to podcasts claim they’d prefer to listen to lifestyle podcasts hosted by a man.
Listeners Tune in to Their Own Gender
Surveys show majority of people want to listen to their own gender
Men are the Harsher Critics
71% of men are more likely to stop listening to a podcast based on the podcaster’s voice—they’re also more likely to stop listening if the podcaster has a male voice.
62% say the voice gender they’d stop listening to is male.
Creators with the Most Top-Rated Podcasts
The vast majority of the companies behind podcasts on our top rated list host only one show. The major exception to this trend is National Public Radio (NPR), which hosts nine of the top forty-two podcasts that we looked at.
In second place Joe Rogan and iHeartRadio tied with three top podcasts. In third place with two shows each are Barstool Sports, Earwolf and Jenna Fischer, and Brené Brown and Cadence13.
News podcasts made up 50% of the top ten podcasts. A whopping thirteen news podcasts made the top fifty, and the top three podcasts overall fall into the news genre.
Society & Culture, another podcast genre, features ten podcasts in the top fifty (e.g., Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us with Brené Brown and iHeartRadio’s Stuff You Should Know), yet the genre doesn’t rank highly overall.