Average Podcast Length: Keep Listeners Engaged & Coming Back For More

Beth Bagley
February 15, 2024
Average Podcast Length: Keep Listeners Engaged & Coming Back For More

Have you ever wondered just how long your podcast should be to keep your listeners hooked from start to finish? You're not alone.  

Deciding the right length for a podcast can be tricky.

Whether it's a quick 15-minute update or an in-depth hour-long discussion, the key is ensuring that your podcast is long enough to cover your topic thoroughly but concise enough to keep your listeners engaged.

The ideal length varies and is about finding what works best for your style and your audience's preferences. After all, there are an estimated 100 million podcast listeners worldwide in 2024, so there’s some guaranteed variance in audience preferences. 

The Importance of Podcast Episode Length

The length of your podcast episodes plays a large role in listener engagement and retention. Today, listeners' attention spans are limited, and their time is precious. The right episode length can mean the difference between a podcast that captivates and retains its audience and one that struggles to maintain listener interest.

Engagement and recurrence are directly influenced by how well the episode length matches the listener's expectations and lifestyle. A well-timed episode can fit seamlessly into a listener's daily routine, whether it's during a commute, workout, or lunch break, thereby increasing the likelihood of regular listening.

The Average Podcast Length Varies

Research in 2019 revealed an average duration of 41 minutes and 31 seconds, suggesting a sweet spot that balances informative depth with listener engagement. But podcasting thrives on diversity, with successful podcasts ranging from the concise 20-minute episodes of The New York Times' "The Daily" to the expansive discussions exceeding two hours on "The Joe Rogan Experience."

Setting Listener Expectations

When determining the length of your podcast episodes, consistency is key to building and maintaining an audience. By keeping your episodes within a similar duration, listeners will know what to expect each week, providing them with a sense of reliability. If your show usually features episodes longer than an hour, introducing a sudden 15-minute episode could confuse your audience. 

If you're interested in varying episode lengths, consider establishing a posting pattern that listeners can recognize. For instance, releasing a longer episode every Tuesday and a shorter one every Friday sets a predictable pattern that your audience can look forward to.

That said, it's important to prioritize content quality over episode length. If you find yourself with less to say on a topic during a typically longer episode, don't stretch the conversation just to meet a time quota. The value of an episode comes from the depth and significance of its content, not its duration.

Trying to decide how long your episodes should be? Let’s explore different aspects of short and long episodes.

Short Podcasts

Shorter podcasts typically last around 15 minutes. They are designed to offer quick, digestible content that listeners can easily consume in one sitting.

Benefits and drawbacks: While short podcasts are great for delivering focused content and fitting into tight schedules, they may not provide enough depth for certain topics, potentially leaving listeners wanting more.

Long Podcasts

Longer podcasts exceed 40 minutes, offering detailed explorations of topics, storytelling, or interviews.

Benefits and drawbacks: These podcasts provide comprehensive insights and the opportunity for deep dives into subjects, which can be highly engaging for interested listeners. However, their length may deter those with limited time.

Ideal Podcast Length Changes Between Topics

The perfect duration varies significantly across different genres, with each category having a rough average runtime that best suits its content:

  • Daily News: Ranges from micro bulletins of 1-5 minutes to extended chat news podcasts that can last an hour or more.
  • Business: Episodes focusing on interviews often aim for 30-45 minutes.
  • Fitness, Health & Motivation: These podcasts thrive with episodes in the 20-30 minute range.

Know Your Audience

At the end of the day, you should be tailoring length and frequency to your listener's insights. 

Consider factors such as age group, occupation, and interests. 

These demographics can influence how much time your listeners are willing to dedicate to your podcast and what content they find most engaging. They may also reveal whether your audience prefers to listen to or watch podcasts– where watching podcasts on platforms like Spotify and YouTube has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. 

Taking Advantage of Video for Podcasts

Recording your podcast in a video format offers benefits beyond reaching your audience members who prefer YouTube. It allows you to create short clips from the full video, which are excellent for promoting your show across various social media platforms. You can learn more about how to start a podcast on YouTube here. 

Episode Frequency

How frequently you post can also impact how long you want your episodes to be. For a weekly posting schedule, you might choose longer episodes to ensure all your content is covered. If you're posting Monday through Friday, shorter episodes of around 15 minutes may be more manageable. It all comes down to the amount of content you want to share, the time you can dedicate to producing your show each week, and how your audience engages with your content.

How Often Should B2B Podcasts be Posting?

The optimal posting frequency for B2B podcasts depends on several factors, including your resources, content strategy, and audience expectations. Aim for a consistent schedule that balances quality content with your team's capacity to produce episodes. Here are a few guidelines:

Weekly Episodes

Most Common: Many successful B2B podcasts opt for a weekly release. This frequency keeps your audience engaged and your brand top of mind without overwhelming your production team.

The B2B Growth Show adheres to a weekly release schedule, with episodes ranging from 15 to 30 minutes in length. This frequency suits its target audience well, catering to busy marketers seeking weekly inspiration and avid listeners who prefer to binge episodes for a lot of insights in a single day.

Bi-Weekly Episodes

Balanced Approach: If weekly episodes are too demanding, a bi-weekly schedule can be a good compromise. It allows for more time to produce high-quality content while maintaining regular engagement with your audience.

Monthly Episodes

For Deep Dives: Monthly episodes can work well for B2B podcasts that involve extensive research, high production values, or feature in-depth discussions on complex topics.

Podcast Format

The podcast format you choose can also affect the length of your episodes. Note that you do not have to stick to one format for your show. Having a variety of formats can attract a wide range of listeners and keep you from burning out. Some common podcast formats include:

Solo Podcasts

Average Length: 15-30 minutes

Solo podcasts feature a single host discussing a topic in depth. This format is intimate, allowing the host to connect directly with the audience. The shorter format works well because it keeps the content focused and respects the listener's time.

Example: "The Daily Stoic" by Ryan Holiday offers insights into Stoicism, philosophy, and life, keeping episodes concise and impactful.

Interview Podcasts

Average Length: 30-60 minutes

Interview podcasts involve a host (or hosts) speaking with a guest or guests about their experiences, expertise, or stories. The length allows for a deep dive into subjects, providing value through detailed discussions.

Example: "How I Built This with Guy Raz" explores the stories behind some of the world's best-known companies, with episodes typically around an hour.

Conversational Podcasts

Average Length: 30-60 minutes

Conversational podcasts feature two or more hosts chatting about a variety of topics, often in a casual, unscripted manner. This format's flexibility in length caters to the natural flow of conversation, making episodes feel like sitting in on a chat between friends.

Example: "SmartLess" hosted by Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett, features a blend of humor, insight, and camaraderie among the hosts as they engage in conversations with various guests from the entertainment industry, politics, and beyond

Quality Content Matters

Ultimately, the quality of your content is more important than its length. A well-crafted, engaging podcast episode that delivers value and meets the listener's expectations is always preferable to filler content designed to meet a specific time quota.

Coming Up With Ideas

Trying to post regularly but running out of topics to cover can be discouraging. You can come up with podcast topics by asking your listeners what else they want to hear about, looking at genre trends, covering current events and how they relate to your niche, or –in B2B podcasting specifically– inviting your ideal customer on the show and letting them speak to their industry expertise. 

Listen to Constructive Criticism

You shouldn’t listen to your haters, but you should listen to the constructive criticism your audience provides. Poor audio quality is a super easy way to lose listenership, even if you have a super valuable message, so be sure to watch for comments about people’s audio experience and improve where needed. If there is a guest listeners love hearing from, try to schedule them more frequently. Be sure to note any feedback people have on your speaking cadence and use of filler words. 

You won’t be perfect, especially when you are starting out, so expect and implement feedback. 

Track Engagement and Retention

Monitoring listener engagement and retention through analytics can provide valuable insights into the ideal episode length for your podcast. Pay attention to when listeners drop off and which segments keep them most engaged.

Use a Podcast Outline

A podcast script will give structure to your episodes so you can stay on track, and can help the speaker feel more confident in what they are saying. Scripts are especially helpful for people just starting and getting comfortable on the mic. 

Create Solid Intros and Outros

Successfully bookend your show with consistent intros and outros. Make sure your podcast intro and outro are concise, summarize what will be/was discussed in the episode, and reflect your show’s branding. Too lengthy of intros will turn listeners away before actually starting your episode, and too long of outros will have listeners leaving before hearing your CTA. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Break the Rules

Initially concentrating on episode length can offer structure to your show and help you identify a suitable starting point, but don’t be afraid to break the rules. The guidelines provided on episode length, genres, and posting frequency serve as suggestions rather than strict standards. Don't hesitate to experiment to discover what works best for you and your audience.

Level Up Your B2B Podcast

If you are looking to start or scale your B2B podcast, you’re in the right place. 

At Sweet Fish Media, we dive deep into understanding your audience to create podcasts, newsletters, social media posts, and more that resonate with your ideal buyers and increase brand affinity. 

From outline creation to guest procurement, production, and distribution, we handle all aspects of your show so you can sit back and relax while watching your monthly downloads skyrocket and the leads pour in. Learn more about what a podcasting agency can do for you. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Average Podcast Length

Is a 2-hour podcast too long?

Not necessarily. A 2-hour podcast can work if the content is compelling and meets the audience's expectations. It's about quality and relevance.

What is the average time spent on a podcast?

Listeners' average time spent on a podcast varies, but many prefer episodes under an hour. Research shows that the average episode length is 41 minutes and 31 seconds. Engagement is key and shorter, digestible content is trending.