The Ringer Podcast The Rewatchables, via YouTube.

Bloomberg this week compiled data put out by Spotify looking at how many users follow the biggest podcasts.

The “follow” feature is an imperfect measure for listenership, but helps understand just how many people actively choose to keep up with a given podcast. Unsurprisingly, The Joe Rogan Experience blows past all its competition with 14.5 million followers. Sports lag significantly behind other categories like news, politics, wellness and true crime. In fact, New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce is the only sports podcast to crack the leaderboard at Bloomberg.

That means podcasts produced by The Ringer, a subsidiary production house owned by Spotify, are not among its biggest shows. This is true despite significant marketing and algorithmic advantages given to The Ringer (as well as JRE, Call Her Daddy and Anything Goes) over externally produced podcasts on Spotify.

The Bill Simmons Podcasts has 415,000 followers, while The Ryen Russillo Podcast counts 151,000. The Simmons-hosted Rewatchables movie lookback podcast has 333,000 followers. Smaller Ringer shows like The Ringer NBA and NFL Show have 214,000 and 87,000 followers, respectively.

The follower count is visible when clicking through into a podcast’s “preview” on its Spotify landing page. The preview function was rolled out last year by Spotify. Previously, the only metrics by which to measure a podcast’s performance on Spotify was to look at charts put out by the platform — which have been openly questioned — or count its star ratings.

“This number represents the number of users who have decided to ‘follow’ a show on Spotify — it doesn’t represent a show’s total audience or the performance of an episode,” Spotify told Bloomberg’s Ashley Carman in a statement.

There are multiple factors to weigh with this data. First, the leaderboard from Bloomberg shows that sports podcasts overall are not as popular as broader categories. But the rise of athlete-hosted podcasts like New Heights (938,000 followers), The Pat McAfee Show (365,000 followers) and Club Shay Shay (144,000 followers) and podcasts directed toward younger audiences like Pardon My Take (465,000 followers) do represent significant competitors to The Ringer, which once was looked at as a trailblazer and for which Spotify paid a quarter-billion in 2020.

Beyond listens on Apple or other podcast platforms, these rankings also do not take YouTube views into account. The video platform continues to rise as a means of podcast consumption, with Google Podcasts shuttering recently while YouTube upgraded its infrastructure for podcast creators and consumers.

Outside of The BS Podcast, few Ringer shows are looked at as juggernauts. But given The Ringer’s clear advantage in terms of promotion and marketing on the Spotify platform, the fact that it still lags significantly behind its competitors on Spotify could be cause for concern.


About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.