How Long Should a Podcast Be? Data & Insights into Your Analytics
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Whether you are a novice podcaster or a seasoned professional, you likely want to know what will encourage your listeners to tune in. The truth is that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to what works best for any given podcast episode. The main question people want to know is: how long should a podcast be?
If you find yourself fretting over episode lengths and are worried that you may have fewer listeners engaged, we're going to break down the ideal podcast episode length for your show.
Let's take a closer look.
- Average Podcast Episode Length
- Questions & Factors in Podcast Episode Length
- Should All Podcast Episodes Be the Same Length?
- How Long Should a Podcast Be? Tips to Choose the Average Length
- Benefits of Longer Podcast Episodes
- Final Thoughts: How Long Should a Podcast Be?
Average Podcast Episode Length
The average podcast episode length depends on so many different factors, but there is some research out there that points to best practices. Some episodes are only fifteen minutes long, while others tend to favor longer episodes. Dan Misener with Pacific Content looked at the average episode length and revealed some surprising figures that you will want to keep in mind.
In his 2019 study of more than 18 million podcast episodes, Misener found that the average length was 41 minutes and 31 seconds.
Of course, averages have to factor in episodes that are both much shorter and much longer than the average. With these outliers taken out of the picture, you might find that the ideal podcast length is actually even shorter. The same study found that the median episode length was just 36 minutes and 34 seconds.
On the whole, these figures demonstrate that the ideal podcast length is steadily shrinking. Both the average and the median are about two minutes shorter than they were the previous time Misener conducted his study.
Don't forget that podcast software tools can help you grow your audience and monitor analytics as well!
Questions & Factors in Podcast Episode Length
Of course, this takes into account all podcast episodes without making any allowances for niches that typically run longer or shorter. The average length gives you a good guideline, but there are more specific data points you might want to use to determine podcast length.
How long should a podcast be? Let's take a look at some of these questions to help you navigate the perfect length.
What Type of Podcast Episode Are You Making?
The first thing you need to consider is the type of podcast episode you want to commit to making. If you are running a one-man show, you may not need the length that someone conducting interviews tends to have. Which formats should feature longer episodes?
Solo podcasters likely want to stick with shorter episodes. Without the dynamic banter between you, a co-host, or an interviewed guest, you will likely find that you run out of things to say quickly. It is far better to have a shorter podcast episode than to try to stretch it out with filler content to hit some imaginary "ideal" minimum.
On the other hand, your podcast episodes might be longer if you have more than one person involved. This allows your podcast listeners to hear from everyone and allows for the back-and-forth of a conversation to reach a logical conclusion.
Here are some tips to help you learn how to interview someone for a podcast.
What Niches Allow Longer Episodes?
You may find that some niches tend to have a longer average podcast length, so knowing what your listeners anticipate can be extremely helpful. Apple Podcasts breaks down the topics and niches into very detailed categories. How long should a podcast be in some of the top categories?
The first thing to consider is your podcast format. If you intend to create bite-sized episodes with quick daily briefings in the area of entertainment or news, you might want a shorter episode. Educational or in-depth episodes tend to be a little longer.
Some niches that tend to allow for longer podcast episodes include:
- Film or entertainment
Almost all of these topics come in with an average episode length that is a little higher than the median. Consider your niche and episode structure when you decide to create a new episode.
How Long Can You Hold an Audience's Attention?
This is another key point that can help you pinpoint the right episode length. One of the most popular times to listen is during a morning or evening commute to work. The podcast industry is taking notice of this dominant trend. This is why a podcast host might choose to keep their podcast under the average commute time (27.6 minutes, each way).
Not to mention, people have a shorter attention span than ever before. Especially if you are a solo host, there is only so long that one voice can sustain interest. You might want your episode to be just a few minutes with more frequent episodes instead of longer.
Can You Keep Up with Your Publishing Schedule?
Last but not least, you should consider your publishing schedule. How long can you make your episodes while delivering quality content regularly? Listeners must engage with you, but you also need to ensure you can deliver time and again.
Shorter podcasts may be easier to produce if you intend to drop new episodes multiple times a week. If you are determined to host long episodes, you might want to consider backing down on your publishing schedule to just once or twice a week to maintain high-quality content.
Should All Podcast Episodes Be the Same Length?
Sometimes, it might make sense for you to post a shorter podcast or a longer one, depending on your topic. The ideal length is whatever feels right to help listeners engage, but should all episodes be roughly the same?
Consistency is king when it comes to the length of a podcast. Most podcasts find that they have better success reaching their audience when their podcasts fall mainly into the same timeframes.
People get used to their listening habits, so it makes more sense to keep your episodes consistent.
As a general rule, you might have one episode that acts as an outlier in your library, but you should aim to keep the length of your podcast as consistent as possible.
How Long Should a Podcast Be? Tips to Choose the Average Length
When you are ready to host your own show, you need to determine for yourself how long your podcast should be. Here are a few of our top tips to get your podcast discovered in the post-production phase when it is ready for the world.
Cut Up Longer Episodes
Suppose that you host a longer interview that exceeds your average podcast length. Maybe it's two hours long, and your content is usually 30 to 45 minutes. Many podcasts would want to post the full interview all at once, but it might be problematic for their listeners who are accustomed to shorter podcasts.
Instead, you can cut up these longer interviews into much smaller segments. You might be able to get two to three episodes out of a single marathon recording session. Then, all you have to do is edit it down, find a logical stopping point, and incorporate your intro and outro.
Gather Consumer Feedback
One thing you can do to make sure you are hitting the best length for your audience is to ask your loyal listeners for immediate feedback. Direct them to a survey, a poll, or something else that enables them to offer you feedback on the length of your episode.
A few audience questions you might want to pose include:
- Do you wish the episode was longer?
- What time or during what activities do you listen to our episodes?
- Would you prefer shorter episodes?
- How often do you tune into our podcasts?
- What day is best for you to listen to podcasts?
When you collect feedback, make sure to take the time to review it carefully. This can give you tremendous insight into getting your message effectively out to your community about the podcast episodes.
Keep Intro and Outro Short
Chances are that your episode doesn't just launch immediately into talking. You likely have an intro and outro recorded to warm people up to the podcast (learn how to create the best podcast intro here). The key here is that you don't want your recorded bits to be so long that they trigger people to click away from your podcast.
Especially if you have shorter episodes (or even episodes of varying lengths), then you need to ensure that your intro and outro are snappy, to the point, and extremely brief. Listeners get more value out of your actual content, so don't distract them with theatrics.
Factor in the Format
Don't forget that the format of your episode might be an indicator of how long podcasts should be. In general, audience members expect a solo host to have shorter episodes compared to an interview or panel-style format. You will have to learn to successfully strike a balance with your listeners.
Benefits of Longer Podcast Episodes
Podcasting for longer episodes may prove to be a more helpful strategy than cutting them up into short-form content. Here are a few benefits of keeping your content long.
More Revenue from Fewer Listens
One of the best ways to engage with listeners is to meet them on other platforms. Consider posting the recording of your podcast episode on YouTube in its full format versus small soundbites and snippets with Shorts or reels on social media. The difference in your earnings could be substantial.
According to this video, 70,000 views of a long-form video would net you the same amount of revenue as 70 million short-form views. You could do it, but it's a lot riskier!
Get More In-Depth
One of the benefits of hosting longer episodes is that you can give your audience what they really want: an opportunity to get in-depth on the topics that matter. People want to learn and grow, so why not allow them to do just that with you via long-form content?
Short podcasts are great for sound bites and quick briefs, but you never really get to a deeper level with your audience. The people who are committed to listening to an hour-long podcast episode are far more likely to be loyal fans than someone who only tunes in for a half-hour each week. It builds community.
Cut Back on Frequency of Publishing Schedule
If you are posting long-form content for your podcast audience, they might not expect that you will post just as many episodes as someone doing short-form content. This can be a great strategy if you have limited time to go through the production process each week, as you can utilize just one recording to create your content.
Final Thoughts: How Long Should a Podcast Be?
There are no quick and easy answers about how long your podcast should be. Listeners will indicate to you whether they are willing to listen for fifteen minutes, one hour, or potentially even longer. Keep some of these top tips in mind to make your podcasting more engaging and successful!
For more information on your podcast analytics and how they can help you choose the right episode length, see our full guide here!
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