Building Charts

Taking a closer look at podcast performance

As Pop Up Archive builds Charts, we’re gathering more and more data points on podcast rankings over time. We’ve started with iTunes charts data (according to some sources, Apple’s podcast app accounts for 70% of podcast listening), and we’ll incorporate other sources from here. Using’s in-depth show statistics tool, you can examine podcast charts stats in multiple ways — and gain insight into the otherwise opaque algorithms that power the charts themselves.

Get the low-down on the current top 10 ranking podcasts — look at “Days on charts” to see if they’re newbies or top-10 veterans. In the top 10 chart for March 7, shown above, you can see that Alice Isn’t Dead and Pardon My Take have both spent less than a week on the iTunes charts.

Search for shows and compare rankings for any podcasts that have been on the iTunes top 100.  For example, see how Alice Isn’t Dead compares to the show that spawned it, Welcome to Night Vale:

Look at “peak rank” to compare current rankings to all-time podcast performance. Some comparisons may surprise you.  For example, take the comparison of Fresh Air, a public media mainstay, to WTF with Marc Maron, which is recorded in comic Maron’s garage. In spite of its rougher edges, WTF peaked in the #1 iTunes spot, whereas Fresh Air has only made it to #2.

See if a podcast is trending up or down on the charts using last month’s median rank. Looking to the example above, we can see that today WTF has fallen below its median rank from last month, whereas Fresh Air has remained right around last month’s median.

One thing to remember is that these podcast rankings put faith in the iTunes charts as an accurate measure of popularity. Of course, the charts would be more informative if they included number of subscribers or listens for each podcast. The iTunes charts seem to favor iTunes interactions (i.e. subscriptions, reviews) and upward momentum (more on that here) — what do you think?

Developers: build rankings into your app with the charts API endpoint

Until now, there has been no easy programmatic way to access podcast rankings, and iTunes offers no explicit way to pull podcast rank data from their API. By offering both current rankings and historical rankings going back to 2013 as structured data, the API provides developers with a new tool for building podcast popularity into their projects, apps, and podcast platforms.

Are you a developer? Try out’s Charts endpoint

Hungry for more stats? Let us know which podcast data points would be most useful to you. And stay tuned: we’ll be adding more data points to the API and the Charts page in the weeks and months to come.

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