Record podcast listening on BBC Sounds in 2019

A surge in podcast listening, including big hits such as The Missing Cryptoqueen, That Peter Crouch Podcast and Tunnel 29, has helped drive record listeners to BBC Sounds.

Published: 23 December 2019
Sounds has allowed us to up our creative ambition and this year’s various hit BBC podcasts are brilliant examples of how we can make audio with great new UK talent on and off mic that sounds different.
— Jonathan Wall

The BBC’s digital home for all audio now has around 3 m weekly users, up from 1.3m in June.

As well as the rapid increase in weekly users on BBC Sounds, there have been more than 630m plays of audio on Sounds across podcasts, live and on demand radio programmes and music mixes.

Between February and November 2019, there was a 74% increase in plays of podcasts and on demand radio programmes on the BBC.

Controller of BBC Sounds, Jonathan Wall, says: “It’s just over a year since we launched BBC Sounds and we’ve seen huge growth to around 3m weekly users. Sounds has allowed us to up our creative ambition and this year’s various hit BBC podcasts are brilliant examples of how we can make audio with great new UK talent on and off mic that sounds different. We’ll be launching new podcasts in early 2020 so there’s plenty more binge worthy audio to come on BBC Sounds.”

Over this year the BBC has significantly expanded its ambition in podcasting; commissioning and making entertaining, informative storytelling specifically for the podcasting medium.

Some of this year’s biggest BBC podcast hits are (all figures are combined downloads or plays on BBC Sounds and other platforms in the UK and outside of the UK):

  • Brexitcast/Electioncast - more than 14m for the BBC’s award-winning podcast with Adam Fleming, Laura Kuenssberg, Katya Adler and Chris Mason which gives listeners geeky insights into the world of Brexit and politics
  • That Peter Crouch Podcast - around 12m, with the most popular episode of the podcast with Peter Crouch, Tom Fordyce and Chris Stark easily being: That Crouchfest Episode
  • Beyond Today - around 8.5m for the daily podcast that asks one big question about a story in the news. The most popular episode was: Why Is Prince Harry Taking On The Press?
  • 13 Minutes To The Moon - this podcast counts down the final thirteen minutes of Apollo 11 mission and has had nearly 6m downloads and plays this year
  • Fortunately… With Fi And Jane - nearly 4.5m downloads or plays this year for the podcast that goes behind the scenes with Jane Garvey and Fi Glover
  • You’re Dead To Me - over 4m for our history podcast for people who don’t like history, hosted by Greg Jenner
  • Tunnel 29 - around 3.5m downloads or plays of the extraordinary true story of a man who dug a tunnel under the Berlin Wall to help others escape, presented by journalist Helena Merriman
  • The Missing Cryptoqueen - over 3m downloads or plays of the investigation by Jamie Bartlett and producer Georgia Catt into a complex cryptocurrency scam and its missing founder
  • Tailenders - over 2.5m for the podcast in which Greg James, Jimmy Anderson and Felix White take an alternative look at cricket
  • Evil Genius - nearly 2.5m for the podcast in which guests join Russell Kane to assess the heroes and villains from history

The Global News Podcast was downloaded or played more than 145m times in the UK and around the world this year. The podcast with the latest from the football world, Football Daily, had more than 22.5m and the most popular episode was: Liverpool And ‘The Greatest European Comeback Of All Time’.

Around half of people in the UK who listen to podcasts each week are under 35. Many of our podcasts particularly appeal to younger audiences and the podcasts with the highest portion of under 35 listeners this year have included: Tell It, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Scott Mills Daily and The Gemma Collins Podcast.

BBC Sounds has also commissioned podcasts which explore important subjects in an in-depth and intimate way which are less likely to be reflected in the same way on air. Popular examples include Fashion Fix, NB, After: Surviving Sexual Assault, No Country For Young Women and Have You Heard George’s Podcast?

The most popular music mixes in 2019 have been: Mindful Mix, The Takeover Mix and Pacesetter.

This year has also seen an increase in our most loved radio programmes being listened to on demand, with Radio 4’s The Archers, In Our Time and Desert Island Discs our most popular on demand radio programmes. The Archers had over 49m downloads or plays on BBC Sounds and on other platforms, In Our Time had over 34m and Desert Island Discs had over 30m downloads or plays, with Louis Theroux the most popular castaway.

The number of weekly users is across the app, website and voice activated devices; and is above the average iPlayer Radio audiences before we launched BBC Sounds.


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