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The Apple Podcast charts is commonly used as a symbol of status and bragging rights, but the public and advertiser perception of being in Apple’s charts is different from reality, with many finding ways to game the system.

Types of charts in Apple Podcasts

At a top line overview, Apple Podcasts has Top Charts for Shows, and Top Charts for Episodes. Although the results can be similar, there’s a differentiation in how to get in the top charts for either an episode or podcast show.

Apple Podcasts Top Charts for shows

Apple Podcasts Top Charts for episodes

How do Apple’s Podcast Charts work?

Apple’s podcast charts are less of ranking of popularity, and more of what’s trending, and what’s popular right now. One of the metrics that holds heavy influence over show ranking is new subscriptions. From watching new podcasts enter and leave the charts, the general conclusion is that getting in the charts is all about the total number of new subscribers in the past 7 days, with a heavy focus on the last 24, 48, and 72 hours.

Although Apple aren’t exactly transparent with how the discovery algorithm for their charts work, Apple in a comment to The Verge, confirmed that the charts are more of what’s trending right now. What’s more, a patent application from Apple filed in 2006 makes mention of a way to calculate popularity based on subscriptions.

Unfortunately, Apple’s lack of focus on other metrics had made it relatively easy for new podcasts to quick work their way up the charts with an influx of subscribers. Things like reviews and ratings, and downloads per day have little impact on what makes it into the top charts.

As Spotify has started rolling out their podcast charts, including the Top Podcasts based on listener numbers and Trending Podcasts, both Apple and Spotify need to explore what measures to put in place to prevent gaming of their respective charts.

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