Once you start looking at podcasting statistics you'll see numbers for downloads, listens, and plays. This can be confusing because the terms seem to be used interchangeably, but there are some technical differences worth knowing.


First up: Your ZenCast analytics show the number of downloads your podcast episodes have accumulated. ZenCast does not show listens or plays

In simple terms, a new download is what's registered each time an episode file is downloaded... and this includes any time a listening app automatically downloads episodes, even if the user never pressed play on their device.

Of course, this makes it possible (and likely!) that an episode can be downloaded more times than it's been listened to or played. However, this is generally an accepted ordinary part of podcasting and nothing to be concerned about.

Bot downloads: Some downloads come from bots or crawlers from podcasting platforms that are keeping themselves up to date on your podcast, this is normal. The bot download filter option can be found it under the "Team" tab of your show's dashboard, although we recommend leaving it switched on.

Listens and Plays

Listens are the same as plays. That is, a listen is counted when someone clicks on the episode and it plays for a certain amount of time.

ZenCast doesn't collect data on listens (only downloads) because it's not possible for us to track when someone presses play on their podcast app, it's only possible for us to track when the episodes are downloaded from our servers and this can sometimes happen without the user pressing play. 

Instead, each listening app like Spotify, Apple, etc. collects stats for listens and plays. Some of these platforms make the listening stats available if you log in directly to their podcast management portal.

How long does someone have to listen to a podcast episode for it to count as a download?

The answer is... it depends!

For example, some platforms count a listen when the episode has been playing for a few seconds, but Spotify and Apple have no minimum listening time, so any play is instantly counted.

There are even more details relating to how multiple plays are counted. For example, some platforms count multiple listens of the same episode on the same day as a single meaningful play. 

Ultimately, each platform will have its own slightly different set of rules about what counts as a listen or play.

If you have any other questions about podcast statistics use the chat bubble to get in touch and we'll be happy to help.