How Long Should A Podcast Be?
When you sit down to plan your podcast, there are so many questions that come to mind. The original inspiration for starting your podcast probably came from a great topic idea or unique perspective, but there’s a lot more to a great podcast than just having something interesting to say. One question you have to ask yourself is, how long is it going to be?
This question might seem small, but it’s not something that can just work itself out. There is a clear correlation between the length of podcast episodes and their success. So, today, we’ll be discussing how long your podcast should be. We’ll break down the average length we typically see and explore what makes the most sense for your podcast. Let’s get into it:
How Long Should A Podcast Be?
There is no quick answer to this question, but we can help you get there. Your podcast episodes should be long enough to feel worthwhile and cover your topics thoroughly. However, they need to be short enough to keep listeners engaged. Most popular shows are somewhere between 15 – 90 minutes long.
The Joe Rogan Experience, the top performing podcast worldwide, averages about 2.5 hours (150 minutes) per episode. However, not all popular shows have such a lengthy runtime. In fact, other wildly successful shows like Call Her Daddy and Up First have much different lengths. Call Her Daddy is around 45 minutes per episode, and Up First is only about 13 minutes.
Why such a difference? Well, to understand how long your podcast episodes need to be, you’ll have to get to know your genre, audience, format, and more to get a perfect number. We’ll take you through each factor, so you can make the best decision for your podcast show runtime. But first, what’s the average length of a podcast?
What Is The Average Length Of A Podcast?
The average length for a typical, modern podcast episode is 38 minutes. This sweet spot is a great jumping off point! Remember, though, this is just an average. Your podcast may take less time or more time to create something marketable and worthwhile!
What To Consider When Planning Episode Length:
First of all, how much time do you need to create something valuable to the listener? Depending on your niche, you may need more or less time to deliver something to your followers that benefits them in some way, whether it’s teaching them something new or inspiring them for the day ahead.
For instance, if you’re hosting a historical podcast like Summer of Gold, you’ll need at least 45 – 60 minutes to cover enough content to keep things interesting. However, if you’re doing a daily meditation podcast like Mind. Body. No Soul., anything longer than 20 minutes won’t be practical for your listeners.
So, ask yourself, how much time do you need to create quality content in every episode. That number will get you close to your ideal runtime.
Scope of Topic
Similar to the value, what is the scope of your topic? Is there a ton of content to cover that you’ll never hit it all no matter how long you run your show? Or, is there a limited amount of content opportunities? Make sure the topic size fits in terms of episode length and years running.
If you plan to do a mini-series like What’s Gaby Cooking . . . in Quarantine? or Get the F*ck Out of the Sun, go ahead and pack in the content within those lengthy episodes. However, if you want to do something long lasting, keep your episodes focused on one topic at a time and feel free to make the episodes shorter. The Career Contessa Podcast is a great example of a short podcast that sticks to one theme, shorter episodes, and has been running for a really long time because of it!
What is your podcast format? There are a lot of different podcast formats, and each one has different time demands. Interview or panel style podcasts likely will take the most time, because you don’t hold full control over the discussion and length of the interview.
A monologue or narrative podcast gives you more control, and creating something more concise will be easier. However, when you dive into the world of education and investigative podcasts, you might find yourself running against the clock again.
Determine what’s normal for your podcast format and what your topic will demand. While you consider the other line items on this list, you’ll hopefully come to an accurate time estimate!
Next, consider what your target audience is used to. Does your niche normally listen to longer episodes? Do they generally listen to podcasts on social media or on a dedicated streaming app? This is good to know! A news commentary or true crime podcast listener is used to a longer show than someone looking for celebrity gossip on the Facebook video page.
Do some research and explore your ideal community and understand what they’ve already accepted. You should try to stay within the normal time range your niche is used to.
What level of production does your podcast require? And how fast? For instance, a fiction podcast like Bone. Marry. Bury is going to require more production than an off-the-cuff vlog style show. However, you can record episodes of a fiction podcast in-advance, whereas a daily news podcast has to be fresh every day.
So, when you’re deciding on the length of your podcast, the demand of production MUST play a big part. If you don’t take this into consideration, you’ll find that your publishing schedule is totally burning you out. Ask yourself what’s practical, and reduce the length if the level of production is too much for your posting schedule.
Speaking of a posting schedule, how frequently are you planning on posting? Many podcasts are uploaded on a weekly basis. These podcasts are the ones that are generally 30 minutes or more. However, daily podcasts like Good Instincts run shorter episodes around 10-15 minutes, so they’re listeners don’t get content fatigue and so they, themselves, don’t get burned out by the demand.
It’s important for your podcast to be consistent. The average podcast episode length for your whole catalog should be about the same. This way, listeners know what to expect and don’t feel cheated by something a fraction of the length or overwhelmed by something double the usual runtime.
Consider your topic and production demand and determine what makes the most sense. Then, try to fill up that time slot each day. If you’re a pop culture podcast like Not Skinny, But Not Fat or the Good Guys, you might find some topics take way less time to cover than others. When this happens, find more things to discuss that fit into the episode theme to keep the same length.
Keeping consistent episode lengths and a regular posting schedule has been shown to really help your podcast grow! This is what listeners are demanding from a high quality podcast, so don’t pass off this consideration too quickly. Every good podcast episode should have a similar runtime.
Lastly, what are your own limitations? Are you working a regular job while you record your podcast? Do you have unreliable equipment or guests? Or, are you just super nervous to take the plunge and stay self-disciplined with a weekly podcast?
The point is, don’t bite off more than you can chew. No matter the average length of your podcast type, your audience demands, or your production demands, record what you know is possible for you. This will ensure you can stay consistent, that you don’t lose motivation, and that you produce a quality product every time.
Your podcast should be between 15-90 minutes long based on your topics and limitations.
We hope this post helps you determine what podcast length will bring you the most success! Be sure to do your research and dive into a lot of similar podcasts to get a feel for what makes sense for you. We have a huge roster of successful, high-quality shows you can dive into. Plus, our blog has more tips to help you craft the perfect podcast. Check it out and drop all your comments & thoughts below!