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.


ZenCast analytics show the number of downloads your podcast episodes have accumulated, and ZenCast does not show listens or plays

In simple terms, a new download is registered each time an episode file is sent from ZenCast to any kind of player or app, including 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 and 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, and some platforms make 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 or play?

For a download to show up in your ZenCast analytics, it'll count as soon as the listener's podcasting app requests the file from us. 

In the case of subscribers, that might happen automatically, with their app downloading episodes ready for listening later, or, it might happen when your listener presses play on the episode. In either case, there's no minimum amount of time required for it to count as a download from ZenCast. As soon as we send the file to a podcasting app, that counts as a download.

For a play to count on the listening app itself, then... 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. 

A summary:

  • ZenCast analytics count the file being downloaded to a listening app, whether or not the file is played
  • Each listening app will have its own slightly different set of rules about what counts as a listen or play on their platform, and in some cases you can log in through their portal to check their analytics directly

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