Jerod Santo changelog.com/posts

An open letter to all podcast apps except Overcast

Here’s the deal. Overcast’s feed crawler has a small feature that adds tremendous value to podcasters like us: it reports your subscriber count in its user agent string:

Overcast/1.0 Podcast Sync (8462 subscribers; feed-id=484679; +http://overcast.fm/) 

We extract this count and store it locally so we can track subscribers1 over time. It’s super useful information to have! How cool would it be if we could have the same information for every popular podcast app?! I’ll tell you: too freakin’ cool

Changelog podcast subscribers table

So, here is my request to all podcast apps that have their own crawler: please follow Overcast’s lead and add subscriber count to your user agent string! It’s a relatively small2 investment that will yield an outsized proportion of goodwill coming your way.

If/when there’s a critical mass of podcast apps reporting, we can start building open source tooling around this data so more podcasters can benefit. Maybe podcasting platforms like Transistor, Fireside, and Anchor will bake reporting right in. It will be so glorious!

But it starts with you, dear podcast app creator. Please report podcast subscribers in your crawler’s user agent string. What do you say? 🙏

Updates:


  • The stat that matters to podcast advertisers is downloads/listens, but subscribers matter to podcast creators because subscribers form a base for future growth. This is akin to the difference between someone reading an article on your blog vs someone subscribing to your blog's RSS feed.

  • I say this because it's a server-side change that doesn't require rolling out a new version of your app. It still might be a lot of work, depending on your infrastructure and codebase.


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