What's the difference between plays, listens, and downloads?

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By Ben

updated about 1 month ago

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


Downloads

Your ZenCast analytics show the number of downloads the episode or show has had.

In simple terms, a new download is registered each time an episode file is downloaded... and this includes any time a listening app automatically downloads episodes.

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 nothing to worry about and is accepted as an ordinary part of podcasting.


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 practice, but in most cases, you wouldn't want to include these so ZenCast automatically filters them out from your show statistics.

If you want to change this option you'll find 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 starts playing. 

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, and it's only possible for us to track when the episodes are downloaded from our servers. Instead, stats for listens are collected by each individual platform.


How long does someone have to listen to an episode for it to count?

The simple answer is... it depends!

For example, Google Podcasts counts a listen when the episode has been playing for at least 5 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 on Google's help page, they say "Multiple listens of the same show by the same user on the same Pacific Time Zone day are counted as one meaningful play." 


So 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 get in touch via the live chat bubble or email hello@zencast.fm

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