Creators, Apple finally explained how its Podcast Charts work

Apple Podcasts app showing off iMore Show with AirPods on red tablecloth
Apple Podcasts app showing off iMore Show with AirPods on red tablecloth (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple has shared more information on how its Podcast Charts work.
  • Apple isn't saying how its algorithm actually functions, but it's telling people what it takes into account.

Any podcaster wanting to improve their standing in the Apple Podcasts Charts has so far been left to guess what goes into their creation and ranking. But not anymore, with Apple now sharing details that explain how those charts are populated for the first time.

A new support document outlines the ins and outs of the Podcasts Charts — Apple's capitalization, not mine — and goes as far to explain exactly what they measure. That's something that wasn't entirely clear before and will no doubt be music to the ears of creators everywhere.

Apple Podcasts Charts reflect the most popular shows and episodes available in a given market and are designed to help people discover what to listen to next. They do not reflect all-time listening records and are not a measure of the largest podcasts by listenership.

Apple isn't going to tell anyone how the charts algorithm works, but if creators want to be at the top of the Apple Podcasts Charts, these are the things that are measured:

  • Listening: When listeners are engaging with episodes, it's an indicator of content popularity.
  • Follows: When listeners follow a show to receive new episodes, it's an indicator of their intent to listen.
  • Completion Rate: When listeners complete episodes, it's an indicator of content quality.

Just as important as what does get factored into the algorithm are the data points that aren't — something else Apple has now explained.

Although ratings, reviews, and shares also help indicate a podcast's newness, popularity, and quality, they are not factored into the algorithm that determines the rankings for Top Shows and Top Episodes. In other words, they may not help people find a podcast on their own, but they influence whether people will listen or follow, and those factors influence the charts.

All of this is great information for podcasters who want to get a better feel for what the Podcast Charts are and how they work, even if the app isn't the best iPhone app for actually listening to podcasts!

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.