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Podcasts Have Shortened By Ten Minutes During The Past Five Years

Podcasts became twenty percent shorter between 2015 and 2019, according to an analysis of more than 32 million episodes conducted by the media analytics and digital rights service Pex. It finds the average length of each episode is 35 minutes and 27 seconds. That is down from 2015 when the average was 45 minutes and 44 seconds. Overall, Pex says nearly seven million hours of podcasts were published last year. That may sound like a lot, but it represents around eight days of newly uploaded content to YouTube.

Pex began using its fingerprinting technology to track audio clips used in podcasts last November. The music monitoring service said it only needed a half-second of material to determine if music was used in a podcast, allowing rights holders to see whether their music appeared in a podcast and whether that use was adequately licensed. Pex had already been monitoring audio and video assets on several dozen social apps and video platforms, from TikTok to YouTube.

That monitoring has allowed Pex to say that of the 32 million podcast episodes it has indexed, 5,447,823 contained at least ten seconds of music of any kind. Because of its monitoring of YouTube, Pex is also able to compare podcasting to the video service. And the company says that while 17% of podcasts have some music, it calculates 84% of YouTube videos do. It blames the continued lack of a seamless music licensing option for podcasters, keeping producers away from music out of fear of copyright infringement lawsuits and takedown orders.

Pex says its review of podcasts also shows that the largest show category is one that doesn’t get a lot of attention. Christianity podcasts – which are separate from the Religious and Spirituality category – made up 16% of episodes it analyzed. That’s roughly three-times the size of Comedy (5.7%), Society and Culture (5.4%) and Music (5.4%). “This is largely driven by an abundance of sermon uploads,” Pex said in a blog post. “With some churches holding daily mass, sermons are being given constantly, and they fit the podcast medium perfectly.”

On the other side of the list are swimming podcasts, which Pex said are the least-produced content area.