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The Right Pitch: A Look into the Popularity of Podcaster Voices by Gender

Do Top Podcasts Feature More Male or Female Voices? What Do Audiences Prefer?

Podcasts are a consumer’s delight and a content producer’s dream: cheap to create, free to download, and easily shareable. Similar to an on-demand talk radio, podcasts boast some big numbers. In 2019, there were over 800,000 active podcasts in circulation, with 62 million Americans tuning in each week.

Podcasts are now so popular that each hosting platform, or “podcatcher,” features a list of the top-rated shows. 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.

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Podcasting by Gender:
Who is Behind the Mic, and What Do Audiences Prefer?

Most Popular Top-Rated Podcasts by Gender
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Male
61%
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Female
27%
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Both
12%
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Gender and Genre

Entertainment-based genres have a male voice preference. Serious genres have a female voice preference.
Podcast stats by gender Podcast stats by gender
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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%

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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%

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62% say the voice gender they’d stop listening to is male.

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Creators with the Most Top-Rated Podcasts

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Top Genres

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Comedy
15.2%
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News
12.1%
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True Crime
12.1%
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Daily News
9.1%

Hitting Rewind: A Brief History of Podcasting

Podcasting was first developed in 2004 by Dave Winer and Adam Curry. The duo created a program that converted radio feed into downloadable content for the iPod. While reporter Ben Hammersly suggested the term “podcast” in a 2004 article, Steve Jobs later claimed the term was a mix of “broadcast” and “iPod.”

Podcasts were made free to download, which meant that radio-lovers now had the ability to tune in to their favorite podcasts any time they wanted. Content creators had an easy time as well, since producing audio content is inexpensive and relatively easy.

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 serialized 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. Now, you’re all caught up.

Encore: Additional Findings

Among the three primary platforms, Spotify Podcasts had the most equal share of male and female podcasters, while Google had the most unequal ratio. For top-rated Spotify Podcasts, 55% of podcasters identified as men. For top-rated Apple Podcasts, 60% of podcasters identified as men. For top-rated Google Podcasts, 73% of podcasters identified as men.

The vast majority of top-rated podcast companies host only one show. The great exception to this trend is National Public Radio (NPR), which hosts nine of the top 42 podcasts that we looked at. Trailing far behind in second place are Joe Rogan and iHeartRadio, tied with three of the top podcasts each. In third place with two shows each are Barstool Sports, Earwolf and Jenna Fischer, and Brené Brown and Cadence.

As most podcasts rely heavily on genre conventions, we looked to see which genres were the most popular. The following genres hold these percentages among top-rated podcasts:

  • Comedy: 15%
  • Lifestyle/Health: 15%
  • True Crime: 12%
  • Sports/Recreation: 5%
  • Education: 2%

Methodology

For podcast creator data, we used data from the top-rated podcasts of three popular platforms: Spotify Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. Each platform had a different number cutoff for the top-rated podcasts.

Apple has a top 50, Spotify has a top 20, and Google has a top 11. In referencing the “Lifestyle/Health” genre, we mixed the subgenres of “Society and Culture” and “Mental Health and Relationships.”

For audience data, we polled 1,000 people via Pollfish and analyzed user activity of 1,000 people via Mouseflow. The data was pulled from 6/12/2020–6/22/2020.