How Long Should A Podcast Be

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As creators, we understand that content is king, but the duration of that content holds the key to maintaining a captive audience. In an age where our attention is constantly being pulled in multiple directions, how long should a podcast be to keep your listeners engaged but still deliver your content insightfully?

I’m Niall Mackay- Founder of Seven Million Bikes Podcasts. When first came to the podcasting journey, I was really confused about the average length of my podcast episodes.

For my first podcast, A Vietnam Podcast, most episodes came in at around an hour. That’s how long I felt it took to have a really good conversation and share someone’s story. Which was my main goal. Sometimes our conversations ran to two hours!

When that happened and I didn’t want to cut any out I would split the episode into two parts, as I personally think 2 hours is too long for a podcast. (Looking at you Mr 3 hours long Joe Rogan Experience.)

For my second podcast, Did That Really Happen?, I aimed for just 20 minutes, but no more than half an hour. I had a specific niche and topic and knew that that could be covered adequately in that time.

After years of working with podcasts in various fields, now I have my answer.

It requires a delicate balance between delivering comprehensive insights and respecting the modern listener’s fast-paced lifestyle. There are so many elements that contribute to your podcast duration, such as the psychology of the audience, what’s your content, listener preferences, and more.

Don’t worry, after reading this blog, you won’t feel it complicated anymore!

Niall Mackay- The Podcast gGuy

Why Average Podcast Episode Length Matters?

Ever wonder why some podcasts keep you hooked from start to finish while others lose your interest along the way? Well, it’s not just the content – it’s the way they play with time. Podcasters have a secret weapon: average podcast length. It’s like a magic wand that controls how long you’re entertained and engaged.

Do you know how to make your podcast go viral? The episode’s length is one of the key factors. Let’s see how important it is!

Engaging Attention Span

You’re strolling through a park, plugged into your favorite podcast. As you listen, you’re fully absorbed – the content is fascinating, the discussions are enlightening, and the storytelling is on point. Suddenly, the episode ends, and you’re left wanting more. This scenario highlights the first reason why average podcast episode length matters: attention span.

In a world filled with distractions and limited time, the length of podcast episodes can make or break its ability to hold your attention. The sweet spot between too short and too long keeps you engaged, ensuring you stay tuned in for the journey.

Engaging Attention Span

Content and Connection

Podcasts are like a digital campfire where hosts share stories, ideas, and insights with their listeners. The length of an episode influences the depth and breadth of content that can be covered.

Imagine trying to squeeze a riveting mystery into a five-minute episode – you’d be left with more questions than answers. On the other hand, an episode that drags on without purpose can leave you feeling disconnected and disinterested.

The interplay between content and duration is crucial. It’s about striking the right balance so that hosts can delve into their subjects while maintaining a cohesive and engaging narrative.

Audience Preferences

The listener is the heart and soul of any podcast. Your preferences, habits, and routines shape the podcasting landscape. Many podcast enthusiasts tune in during their daily commute, workout sessions, or while cooking dinner.

Understand your audience’s preferences. If your episodes are too long, they might lose interest before reaching their destination. If they’re too short, podcast listeners might feel like they’ve missed out on a fulfilling experience. Crafting podcast episodes within a suitable time frame caters to your audience’s routines, making it easy for them to incorporate your content seamlessly into their day.

Audience Preferences

How Long Should A Podcast Be – Ideal Podcast Length

Don’t expect to receive an accurate number here, there’s no one-size-fits-all duration for a podcast episode because every podcast show has its own topic, format, and target audience so they cannot have the same length.

The podcast topics you cover, the format you choose, and the audience you’re targeting all contribute to the tapestry of your podcasting journey. These elements, when woven together, form the fabric of your show’s identity, and they inevitably influence the length of your episodes.

Let’s break it down further:

  1. Content and Format

The depth and complexity of your content are major contributors to episode length. The podcast length varies between the podcast format and the topic you aim at.

Actually, different podcast formats and genres have distinct expectations when it comes to ideal podcast episode lengths. If your podcast analyzes intricate subject matters or requires detailed explanations, it may naturally extend the episode duration.

If you release episodes daily, shorter formats (10-20 minutes) might be more manageable for your listeners. For a weekly release schedule, longer episodes (45-60 minutes) can offer a comprehensive experience.

Create longer episodes for these

  • In-Depth Interviews
  • Storytelling and Narrative
  • Educational Content
  • Panel Discussions and Debates

These podcast episodes usually last for 50-60 minutes to fully cover this content.

In-Depth Interviews

Topics That Benefit from Shorter Episodes

  • News Briefings
  • Quick Tips and Tutorials
  • Comedy Sketches
  • Daily Reflections or Affirmations

For these types, the average length will be about 15-20 minutes.

  1. Listener Habits

Audience feedback and preferences are crucial factors in determining the appropriate episode length. Understanding your listeners’ routines, preferences, and habits helps tailor your content to their needs.

Consider conducting surveys or engaging with your audience to gather insights into their preferred episode duration. Adapting your episodes based on listener input demonstrates your commitment to providing a satisfying listening experience.

After understanding your target audience, see which group they belong to and decide your average episode length.

How long should a podcast be

Age Group

  • Younger Audience (Gen Z and Millennials)

Younger listeners often have shorter attention spans and are more accustomed to consuming bite-sized content. Aim for shorter episodes, ideally around 20-30 minutes, to cater to their preferences and align with their on-the-go lifestyle.

  • Middle-Aged and Older Audience

This demographic may have more time to dedicate to podcast listening. Longer episodes, such as 45-60 minutes, could work well for topics that require depth and exploration.

Job and Habits

  • Commuters

If your audience includes commuters, consider their average commute time. Short episodes (20-30 minutes) are ideal for those with shorter commutes.

Commuters Listen to Podcast
  • Desk Jobs

Listeners with office jobs might appreciate longer episodes to keep them engaged during work hours. Consider episodes around 45 minutes to an hour.

Listening Environment

  • Multitasking

If your listeners tend to listen while doing other tasks like exercising, cleaning, or cooking, shorter episodes may be more suitable (20-30 minutes). These episodes can fit into their routine without interruption.

  • Focused Listening

For audiences who prefer dedicated listening time, longer episodes (45-60 minutes) can provide in-depth content for their focused attention.

Regularly gather feedback from your audience through surveys, social media, or direct interactions. This can help you understand their preferences and adjust your episode length accordingly.

Podcast Platform

The platform on which your podcast is hosted plays a significant role in episode length. By aligning your episode length with your audience’s consumption habits, you enhance the likelihood of sustained engagement.

Platforms with interactive elements, such as polls or call-ins, might lean towards shorter episodes to facilitate listener participation. Meanwhile, platforms focused on in-depth conversations might favor longer episodes that allow for comprehensive discussions and exploration of nuanced topics.

Spotify

For this platform, shorter episodes around the 20-30 minute mark might be ideal. Spotify’s algorithm-driven recommendations aim to keep listeners engaged during their commutes or daily activities.

Apple Podcasts

The ideal podcast episode length is around 30 minutes to an hour. Apple Podcasts’ wide reach allows for a variety of genres and formats, making it suitable for both in-depth discussions and informative, yet concise, episodes.

Podcats Platform

Audible

With a focus on high-quality storytelling and audiobooks, Audible’s platform encourages long podcast episodes. Podcasters aiming for narrative-driven storytelling or in-depth interviews might find success with episodes lasting over an hour.

Social Media Platforms (e.g., Instagram, TikTok)

Short-form platforms like Instagram and TikTok offer opportunities for podcasters to create teaser or promotional content. These platforms prioritize brevity and visually appealing content. Podcasters might create brief video clips for just a few minutes that introduce a podcast episode’s main theme or feature intriguing soundbites to entice listeners to tune in.

  1. Storytelling Pace and Flow

The pacing and flow of your storytelling or discussions influence episode length. Some stories may naturally unfold at a leisurely pace, while others demand a more brisk rhythm. Pay attention to the narrative arc and ensure that your podcast’s length aligns with the story’s momentum.

There’s no strict rule for how long a storytelling podcast should be, but it’s usually a long one (over 45 minutes). The nature of the story, the pacing, and the overall content dictate the episode length.

How To Control Your Episode Lengths

Controlling the effective length of your podcast episodes is crucial to maintaining audience engagement and delivering a satisfying listening experience. Even after deciding on your target podcast length, you may still find that episodes occasionally fall short or exceed your intended duration.

While these strategies can help you control the length of your podcast episodes, it’s important to remember that quality content and flexibility is key. As I said, there’s no accurate time for how long should your podcast be.

Sometimes, the nature of the content might warrant a slightly longer or shorter episode. Prioritize delivering valuable content and maintaining engagement over strictly adhering to a predefined length.

Thorough Planning and Scripting

Before hitting the record button, invest time in planning and scripting your podcast episode. Add in your podcast outline template the main points, segments, and transitions you want to cover.

This preparation will help you stay on track during recording and reduce the chances of going significantly over or under your intended episode length. A well-structured script serves as a roadmap, ensuring that you cover all essential content within the desired timeframe.

Time Management During Recording

During recording, keep a close eye on the time. If you notice that you’re spending a lot of time on a particular segment or topic, adjust your pace to ensure you have enough time for other sections. If you find yourself running short on time, prioritize the most critical information and consider saving less essential content for future episodes.

By managing your time effectively during recording, you can maintain a consistent episode length.

Editing and Post-Production

After recording, your podcast episode lasts for 90 minutes, much longer than you expected. Don’t worry it’s not the end of podcast producing, the editing process can help. Post-production is where you have the opportunity to fine-tune your episode lengths.

Trim any unnecessary pauses, tangents, or repetitions that might extend the episode duration. Use editing tools to maintain a smooth flow while eliminating content that doesn’t contribute to the episode’s overall value. Additionally, consider incorporating transitions or music cues to keep the pacing engaging and the episode within the desired length.

Editing Process

Segment and Structure Management

Dividing your podcast episodes into segments or sections can be beneficial in managing episode length.

If you consistently find that your episodes are exceeding the desired duration, evaluate whether some segments could be split into separate episodes. On the other hand, if episodes are consistently shorter than intended, consider expanding certain segments or incorporating additional content to achieve the desired length.

How Long Should A Podcast Be – Final Takeaways

The episode length truly matters. It’s not just a matter of convenience for creators or listeners; it’s a pivotal factor that affects your content’s quality, resonates with your audience, and even impacts the discoverability of your podcast.

There’s no exact number for your podcast lengths, but there are some ways to know the ideal duration that suits podcast format, topics, and listeners, and I have shared them with you all.

Although the podcast length is important to a successful podcast, valuable and compelling content is still key to your podcast. Try to produce your podcast with passion, put in effort and success will come.

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