Sometimes listeners might play a podcast episode multiple times to listen again, or they might begin listening in their car and later finish listening on their phone or laptop... you might wonder if all these plays on the same device count in your podcast analytics, or if one for each device counts, or if some other method of counting is used.

How are analytics counted in ZenCast?

The answer depends on a few details. For example, because ZenCast is your podcast host, we only send the file to a podcast player and don't play the file directly ourselves. This means ZenCast sees each time an episode is downloaded to a device or podcast app, but we have no idea how many times the episode is played once it's downloaded to the app or device. So, ZenCast analytics always shows downloads and not plays.

So for ZenCast analytics, once we've sent the file to a device or player it doesn't matter how many times they play, start again, repeat play on loop, or anything else, we only count the single original download. 

If the listener downloads the episode to more than one device (eg phone, car, laptop, tablet, smart speaker), that's when we will count an additional download. All of these would count as individual downloads even though they might only be for a single listener.

We would also count an additional download in the rare case that the listener clears their device storage cache, and then downloads the episode to the same device again, but this isn't very common so it shouldn't be a big factor.

How are analytics counted in podcast apps?

Major podcast listening apps like Spotify and Apple Podcasts also keep their own separate analytics for your podcast, and unlike ZenCast analytics, these are often based on plays instead of downloads. 

Because their platform is playing the podcast after downloading the file from us, they'll know exactly how long each episode has been played for, whether or not it's been played multiple times by the same user, or played multiple times across multiple devices on their platform. 

Each podcast app has its own criteria for what counts as a play and how it detects and counts multiple plays by the same person, eg some might count a play the instant the listener presses the play button and some might wait until the episode plays for a certain amount of time before counting the play.

You can find out more about plays vs downloads in this article.

If you want a really technical deep dive into the 'official' way to count podcast analytics on listening apps, take a look at the IAB Podcast Measurement Technical Guidelines. Many podcast podcast services aren't certified to the IAB guidelines, but it's the nearest thing we have to an industry standard.