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Get Your Headphones! Here are the Top Searched Podcasts of 2020

A New Study Reveals Which Podcasts Americans Searched During a Year of Non-Stop Streaming

By Pam JannesPublished 3 years ago 3 min read

What were your most streamed podcasts last year? Were you more into true crime or politics? A new analysis revealed that the most searched podcasts in the United States in 2020 were Code Switch, The Mismatch, and The Mark Levin podcast.

The study reviewed Google Trends statistics across the 50 states and Washington, D.C., from January to December of 2020 to see which podcasts Americans were searching for the most.

The Top-Searched Podcasts

The top podcast, Code Switch, was the top-searched podcast in nine states including Nevada, West Virginia and Kentucky. For those who haven’t listened to Code Switch it offers an in-depth analysis of how race and racism affects how individuals interact with others and themselves. The podcast was launched in 2016 and has been discussing issues related to racism and identity among people of color for years. However, following the moment of reckoning around race in this country, where many white people were attempting to understand how they participated in systems that murdered individuals like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, the Hollywood Reporter stated that there was a 270 percent surge in downloads of Code Switch in the summer of 2020.

Code Switch is just one podcast that has seen increased popularity as more Americans seek to listen to Black voices. In fact, over the summer, Harvard University’s Anti-Racism Resource Hub shared a list of informative podcasts for anti-racist allies, and magazines like Essence have shared podcasts that celebrate and amplify Black perspectives.

However, the next most-searched podcast on the list diverts greatly from the subject matter of Code Switch. The Mismatch was the top-searched podcast in six states that included Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida. The Mismatch is an NBA-focused podcast that reviews all news in professional basketball. It makes sense that a sports-focused podcast would be among the top-searched podcasts in the country. After all, with many Americans starved for live sports, we’ve all been fiending for any ounce of sports-related content we can possibly stream.

Finally, the third most-streamed podcast, the Mark Levin Podcast, offers yet another completely different focus. The podcast is the dominant media platform utilized by Mark Levin, the show’s namesake and a leader in the conservative media landscape. Over the course of the year, Mark Levin’s podcasts surrounding the election were the center of national attention. In fact, the New York Times even shared an article spotlighting the impact of Mark Levin telling other conservative podcasters to avoid “stolen election” rhetoric.

The Rise of Podcasts

Of course these podcasts are just three of the top names in podcasts this year. In fact, there are probably more podcasts across different sharing platforms than can be easily enumerated (although a recent report from PodcastInsights asserts that there are around 1.75 million). The podcast medium has become one of the most popular ways to digest news, stories, comedy and advice in the country.

Some reasons for the surge in popularity for all podcasts are variety, ease of streaming, access to identifiable perspectives and even huge online communities of podcast series fans.

In 2020, the popularity of podcasts grew even more. A report from the Verge in the summer of 2020 revealed that during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Spotify reported a near 30% increase in active users from the year before. A huge number of those users were using the app specifically to stream podcasts, which, due to the unique ability to be created by podcasters safely in their own homes, continued with new episodes even as live performances and even video media production was put on halt.

Truly, in 2020, podcasts were a saving grace for those of us who needed a distraction, a laugh, a wakeup call, a new perspective and even a community. It will be so exciting to see what else podcasts can bring in 2021 and beyond.


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