Podcasting By the Numbers

It might be crass to talk numbers with you. You may not care how many times an episode is downloaded. It probably isn’t necessary for you to know which episodes are more popular. Perhaps, knowing which guests were downloaded the most doesn’t do anything for you.

But, all of this does something for me. It helps me to know what resonates with you. If I love reviewing books and you prefer me to talk more about Black Powder, I’m doing you a disservice if book reviews feature prominently in the show. I also have a theory that people secretly like numbers. Why else do we enjoy Top 10 lists? It looks like at least some of you enjoyed reading Top Content of 2011, in which I posted a top list of podcast episodes.

This time I am discussing numbers in a similar but different way. As of writing this posting I can tell you that 11 people have downloaded Wargaming Recon Episode 70: Dedhampton Revolution. In less than 24 hours, eleven of you have downloaded the episode. That is actually not bad but previous popular episodes clocked in at one download per hour for the first 12-24 hours after a new show airs. Hopefully more of you will download the episode in the coming days. If not, I’ll learn the valuable lesson that although I am ecstatic about my Imagi-Nation campaign…you guys are not.

The really interesting statistic is the number of downloads for ReCast #1: CWF-2006-12-7 Solo-Cast w/ CWF Holiday Gift Guide, Chester French, Privateer Press Updates, and Pearl Harbor Day. Since 2006 I have been podcasting, off and on, about gaming and New England gaming. Back then the show had very few listeners. Things have changed from then where popular episodes routinely get 100+ downloads. The most popular episode, CWF Game Cast Episode 51: Black Powder Explosion, receiving 236 downloads and counting.

What makes ReCast #1 so interesting is how many times it has been downloaded. Because of the ReCast episode, the original recording, unaltered from its 2006 debut, has 99 downloads. By the time you read this article I am sure that the ReCast episode will soar past 100 downloads.

Why would anyone be interested in a podcast episode from almost 7 years ago? Back then the show was more casual, the recordings were not as clean, my voice was more annoying, and I was more unsure of myself and the topics I discussed. In short, there are so many reasons to NOT listen to episodes before 2010. Yet, you’re listening to that old episode and you’re listening to it in, for me, droves.

Part of the charm must be the debut of ReCast. ReCast is the label I affix to older episodes. When I find a show from the early days that I think you might enjoy I paste ReCast onto it, release the old show in its original form, and let you listen. You’ll get the joy, I hope, of hearing my prehistoric podcastings while retaining the knowledge that the recording is very old.

I worried that ReCast would cause listeners to unsubscribe and never listen to another Wargaming Recon episode. So far that doesn’t seem to be the case. My fear was so great that I almost didn’t push ReCast through to iTunes. For a long moment I hesitated and wondered “am I shooting myself in the foot? Will this kill the podcast?” I’m glad that I clicked the publish button, sending ReCast #1 to the airwaves.

Another reason that I think ReCast #1 resonated, there’s that word again, with you is the topic. ReCast #1 featured the first ever Holiday Gift Guide. 2011’s Holiday Gift Guide, Episode 66: Wargaming Recon Holiday Gift Guide 2011, is the 3rd most popular episode EVER. One hundred ninety-two of you have downloaded Episode 66. This episode had no guests. It had no special reveals. No contents were opened on the show. Episode 66 is just me talking about my gift picks for gamers.

To put this into perspective, the previous 3rd most popular episode was Episode 58: Henry Hyde and Battlegames Magazine. Episode 58 featured a multi-hour long interview with, then, owner, and current, editor of world renown wargaming publication Battlegames Magazine. Henry has worked with the Perry Brothers, gamed with Rick Priestley, is included in the Black Powder: Last Argument of Kings book, and worked with wargaming greats. His publication is subscribed to across the globe. Henry’s episode was released 6 months before my gift guide show. Furthermore, Episode 58 has 171 downloads.

I’m no Neil Shuck or Steven MacLauchlan. 171 downloads is a HUGE deal for me. Heck, 20 downloads is a HUGE deal for me. It isn’t easy for one of my shows to get 171 downloads. I thought Henry’s appearance would continue its upward journey ultimately lodging itself in a top 3 spot for eternity. For whatever reason, you listeners love my 2011 Holiday Gift Guide more. That told me that it might be a safer bet for ReCast #1 to show the first ever holiday gift guide. Looks like that was true.

Here are a few other numbers to throw out at you. 2008. 5,108. 421. 59. 2008 is the first year that my podcast kept track of stats. Numbers of subscribers and downloads remained low from 2008 until 2010 when the show restarted and ultimately got revamped with help from Tom Barbalet. 5,108 is the total number of downloads for ALL podcast episodes. This is tracked, as I mentioned, from 2008. Imagine how many times older episodes were downloaded. I’m sure it wasn’t a lot but even a handful helps to increase that number. 421 is the average number of downloads, now, for a 30-day time period. Each month the two episodes are cumulatively downloaded 421 times. That means each episode is downloaded an average of 210 times. 59 is the average number of unique subscribers for a 30-day time period. This means that Feedburner has tracked 59 of you downloading the show via iTunes (yes, both Mac and Windows). I know that more of you download the show directly from the blog, some of you listen to it live, and some obtain episodes in other ways.

Taking these numbers and doing some handy-dandy math allows me to project future growth. In a 12 month period, the podcast should have 5,052 downloads. That is just shy of the total number of downloads since 2008. 24 episodes will yield over five thousand downloads. That is simply amazing to me. Over the years the number of you tuning in has increased. I am grateful for each and every single one of you. Hopefully someday I can release an episode to the number of listeners that Neil Shuck has. If that day ever comes, please know that I’ll remember the 59 monthly subscribers downloading 2 episodes each month, which adds up to 421 times, going back to 2008.

In the coming months I will continue to release ReCast episodes for your enjoyment. Hopefully you’ll get a fun peak into the vault. In the meantime please enjoy the most recent episodes. I’m proud of each of them and think that you will love them.

Episode 70: Dedhampton Revolution
Episode 69 1/2: Podcast Promo Contest
Episode 69: Angelia Heroux & TotalCon
Episode 68: Tropico & TotalCon 2012
Episode 67: Bibliomania
Episode 66: Holiday Gift Guide 2011
Episode 65: Goodbye Battlegames? NEVER!
Episode 64: Historical Modelling
Episode 63: Wargaming Recon is Born
Episode 62: The Battle of Abington
Episode 61: Bailey Records Music to Game By
Episode 60: Local Events Roundup