What's the Best Day to Publish a Podcast?
All podcasters have an important choice to make. After all the groundwork has been done in producing a podcast, you then have to think about when you want to release your show. While we would love to tell you that Monday at 6:15 am is the best time, it's not that simple.
Choosing the best time to release a podcast is a necessary step in the launch process. Like a steady drumbeat, having a specific publish day creates a predictable rhythm of publication that benefits your target audience.
Why Your Podcast Publishing Schedule Matters
Today, podcasters are competing for visibility amongst thousands of other shows. One of the best things you can do to build trust around your show is to stick to a regular podcast release schedule. But, "the best time" is highly subjective. For any kind of publishing schedule to work, it depends on your chosen niche, target audience, and how consistent you are.
Listeners like to know when they can expect new episodes. This is because there is trust when there is consistency. When listeners trust you, they become loyal. And loyalty is paramount for podcasts to thrive.
So, what happens to a podcast that doesn't stick to a steady schedule?
The term "podfading" refers to a show becoming less and less regular, until it eventually disappears. One of the best ways to keep yourself accountable and avoid any sign of podfading is to structure a podcast schedule based on listener habits.
The Megaphone Analysis
Anyone who has Googled "What's the best day to publish a podcast" will most likely have come across Megaphone's 2018 research. They reveal that podcasters tend to publish their episodes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between 2 am and 5 am, with 5 am being the best time to gather the maximum amount of downloads.
This data is fascinating—especially for data nerds like ourselves. But, this widely shared information isn't what you need to make crucial decisions surrounding your podcast.
Be WARNED: One Man's Data Could Be Another Man's Downfall
Popular upload days and listenership may or may not actually tie into each other.
If you were to conduct a data analysis based on an extensive sample of other podcasts, you would hope that those podcasters are uploading their content on the best days for their audience. But, it takes a lot of time and energy to find these "best days." So, the probability that people have done the actual legwork is minimal.
Most likely, podcasters are uploading at those times because other people have also done so. Consequently, these days and times have become the most popular. And then other podcasters jump onto the bandwagon, which perpetuates the cycle.
As more brands, individuals, and networks start to produce podcasts, it's only natural that they would begin to come out with their own data and opinions on episode publishing.
Timing and Time Zones
Uploading in the early hours allows platforms to approve the episode and publish it when subscribers get up. While there is some logic behind those particular timings, you also need to consider when your audience is most likely to listen.
Every podcast audience is different. Will your target listeners prefer to tune in on their commute to work or on their way home? Or, would they rather listen mid-afternoon when they're busy doing house chores? Perhaps they choose to listen late at night once the kids are in bed.
Then there's the question of time zones. Most likely, 99.99% of the data analysis out there doesn't take into account the different time zones. So sure, upload your podcast for 4 am in your time zone, but is that really the best time for listeners across all locations and time zones?
How Will You Measure Success?
Knowing the "best" day to release your podcast all comes down to that one word: BEST. So, as you're producing your podcast and getting it ready for release, you need to constantly ask yourself what you mean by best.
The release time/day that gains the most downloads/listens?
The time/day that is most likely to get subscribers?
Or, is it the time that increases your follower numbers the most?
Clearly define what you are trying to achieve when publishing your podcast. The best way to do that is to jot down your overall goal. Whether it is more downloads, followers, subscribers, listening time, reviews, lead generation, email sign-up, or website traffic. Define what you are trying to achieve and how this can be measured.
Gathering Podcast Data
As you publish episodes, your data will play a significant role in your podcast's publishing day if you're smart. It doesn't matter how much research you do; finding the perfect publishing day for your podcast will always be an ever-evolving process.
Depending on the channels you're checking (hosting site, Spotify Catalog, Apple Podcast Connect etc.), podcasters can receive lots of data regarding their podcast's performance, including:
Number of starts and streams (Spotify and Apple)
The performance of each episode
Number of unique listeners/impressions
Total time listened
Average consumption percentage
Listener drop-off points
Listeners' demographics: gender, age, and geography
Number of plays
Average percentage listened per episode
Unfortunately, not all podcast hosting sites will have the time that episodes were downloaded or streamed, or the listener drop-off points per episode.
Apple Podcasts will tell you the average time listened per episode, but Google Podcasts will tell you the number of meaningful plays per episode. They aren't quite the same thing. These differences in metrics make it difficult as a podcaster to collate data and take meaningful insights from your listener data. —Amy Baker, Content Career
With most podcast hosting sites, you will be able to dive into your podcast's analytics to understand when your podcast gains the most interaction. One key indicator to check is the day that shows the most traction.
So, it's up to you to figure out what success means to you and analyze the metrics that matter most. Never underestimate the power of podcast tracking.
Finding the Best Day and Time to Release Podcast Episodes
Now you understand which metrics you will use to measure success, it's a good idea to think about the other factors that might impact your upload time. External factors could help narrow in on the right timing for you.
For example, you might want to consider:
Your target audience's day-to-day activities
When your target audience gets up and goes to sleep
How long it takes for the platform(s) to put your podcast in subscribers' feeds
What time and day other podcasts in your niche are releasing episodes
Any promises or commitments you've made to your current audience
These factors and more might all play a role during the testing phase, which we'll talk about next.
Testing When to Publish Podcast Episodes
Testing the best day and time to release podcast episodes can be relatively straightforward. It does take time though, as you will need to review at regular intervals over a matter of months to see the right trends. Strategies you could aim for could be simply asking your audience what they prefer.
For established podcasts it's worth testing based on your ideal audience's routines and expected listening times. If your podcast isn't released yet, we suggest researching other podcasts your audience listens to and publish at a similar time in order to start drawing in the necessary data to make adjustments and publishing decisions later on.
Other strategy options could be:
Publish episodes on different week days, but at the same time (measure the results)
Publish episodes on the same day of the week, but at a different time (measure the results)
Choose two days of the week and upload twice a week at the same time
Ask your audience what times and days they prefer and rotate between those
Analyze the Results After Release
Once you have chosen when to test and upload, it's time to keep monitoring and analyzing those results!
If your data shows a spike in listenership on a Wednesday instead of Tuesday, try to focus your content creation, marketing, and release schedule around that day. Keep in mind that certain external factors can affect your data by creating anomalies, such as public holidays.
Get results from multiple episodes. Don't upload once on a Tuesday, once on a Thursday, and think you've got all the data. For example, one episode might have had a great title or guest, and the other may have been uploaded on a holiday, which then can provide conflicting results. There are so many factors that could impact the results of a single release, so try to capture data from multiple episode uploads.
The Working Week
The standard Monday to Friday working week could be a great measure to use to decide the best day of the week to publish.
Early weekday releases. If your audience regularly commutes, they may relish having a new episode to listen to first thing in the morning.
Topics and genres that benefit early morning commuters: Self-care and improvement, industry news and updates, and comedy.
Mid-week releases. The middle of the week can be tricky to contend with. Most of us find the mid-week tough to work through; getting people into a podcast that touches on serious issues or specific industry details isn't what many people want to be listening to. Comedy podcasts that are released on a Wednesday often alleviate those mid-week blues.
Friday release. Get listeners ready for the weekend! Audiences will want to listen to something to help get them in the mood for the weekend. That makes Friday another good day for comedy podcasts and entertainment, live music, art, or culture. Also, DIY and gardening are strong Friday contenders.
Weekend releases. According to Megaphone's data, downloads tend to drop on Saturday and Sunday. This is most likely due to consumers being engaged in other activities away from their devices.
Why Does the Day Matter if Episodes Can Be Downloaded Whenever?
Since podcasts can be downloaded at any time, from anywhere, why does the exact day of release matter so much? For example, if a podcast already gets many downloads on a Sunday evening, yet the podcast has only ever been released on a Monday and Friday, why would you make a special effort to publish on a different day? Plus, only subscribers actually see the moment when you publish. What's the issue?
Well, carefully considering your publish day and time can be a great catalyst in activating your listenership and keeping them engaged. Subscribers do have access to the content whenever they feel like it and may get notified of new episodes. But, by publishing at times where interaction and engagement is likely to be stronger, you'll probably see an increase in episode completion rate and downloads.
Listeners are busy. Audiences are made up of people who have different obligations in life and different shows to listen to. By taking stock of the strongest engagement times for your audience, you can publish at a time when they're more likely to engage at the moment.
Remember: part of building an audience is retaining those listeners. By using the above strategy you can raise that retention.
Draw Your Own Conclusions
If you take one thing away from this article, it should be this: Don't post at the same time that others do!
Mimicking another podcaster's strategy means you will be catering to an audience that's far from your ideal listenership. The proper scheduling for your podcast is deeply subjective. Your competitor's scheduling strategy might fit their target audience's specific behavior, but not yours.
Therefore, you'd better rely on your own analysis and testing until you find the schedule that performs best for you. A podcast is something that will always be evolving. From the content you're producing to the time and day you publish, there will always be an element of trial and error. So, use the data you have to hand and if it's not working, change it!