Monday Memo: Podcasting? Think How-Long, Not How-Many

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — You might know of the Pareto Principle, also called “The Rule of 80/20,” which states that 80% of sales come from 20% of customers. Ask any retailer. And radio audience measurement bears this out too. 70%+ of listening comes from 20%+ of a station’s listeners.

Because most podcasts are free, many are downloaded

But how many actually get heard? And how many get heard in their entirety?

In broadcasting, we seek the listener’s or viewer’s attention one…moment…at… a…time. If you’re delivering value, each sentence buys you one more. Presume that the listener you want to subscribe and recommend your podcast is also mentally-busy, driving for instance. You’re competing for share of mind.

“There is no such thing as an attention span. This whole idea of an attention span is, I think, a misnomer. People have an infinite attention span if you are entertaining them.”

And if you’re not?  They hit Skip. And if that’s my favorite Jerry Seinfeld quote, you have proof that your consultant is a nerd.

Megaphone reviewed data from 549 podcasts among Apple’s Podcasts Top 200 list:

  • Notable: Jump in the share of programs running less than half an hour.
  • Splitting two hours of content into multiple episodes usually results in more downloads.

Pro Tip: Shorter beats longer.

Which would you rather have?

  • 10,000 downloads? OR…
  • 1,000 subscribers, who wouldn’t miss a word, and share your podcast with friends?

Not a trick question.

Holland Cooke ( is author of the E-book “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books; and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download: and “Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins,” the E-book and FREE on-air features. HC is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke