How Long Should a Podcast Episode Be? 5 Key Factors To Consider

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A common question every podcaster asks themselves is: How long should a podcast episode be? With the diversity of content and listener preferences, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, by understanding certain key factors, such as content type and audience demographics, you can determine the most effective length for their podcast episodes.

In this article, we will take into account these factors and common mistakes to avoid when determining how long your podcast should be.

Understanding Your Ideal Podcast Length

You may have read that the average podcast episode length sits between 20 and 40 minutes, but that represents just 32% of podcasts. The other 68% varies wildly, from short episodes of less than 15 minutes up to more than an hour. 

Understanding why this happens is key to recognizing what length will best benefit your content. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Are you tackling a particular topic?
  • What's the format of your podcast?
  • What type of audience are you targeting?

What is Your Topic?

Your podcast's content dictates its ideal length. Complex topics may need longer episodes for thorough exploration. Conversely, concise topics suit shorter episodes.

First, it is crucial that you understand what type of content you want to produce. Not all podcasts are created equal, and an educational podcast like the popular “History of Rome” will benefit from a thorough study of its subject matter. Meanwhile, an entertainment-focused podcast may be kept short and sweet, as not to overstay its welcome.

This consideration will, of course, impact the length of your episodes. Carefully select which points you want to come across and adjust your time for them. 

What is Your Podcast’s Format?

Your podcast's genre greatly influences its ideal length. Different formats resonate with different audiences

  • Solo Podcasts: typically work well with 15–30 minutes. Having a single voice requires a shorter length so as not to become monotonous. 
  • Interviews or panel shows: often 30–60 minutes or even more. A dynamic discussion where each host or interviewee can get their point across benefits from more time to develop.
  • Storytelling can range from 20 minutes to over an hour. This type of podcast will depend heavily on your topic, so it may be difficult to find the perfect length. Be mindful of your content, and give it the time it needs to correctly develop.

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all, these are all suggestions. The key is to find what works best for your style and your audience's preferences. And keep in mind that consistency in episode length helps maintain your audience's interest and loyalty.

Who is Your Target Audience?

Understanding your audience means considering their age, gender, culture, affiliations, and education. For podcast hosts, tailoring content to fit these demographics is crucial.

Niche podcasts attract specific audience demographics, while broader topics appeal to a wider range of listeners. With a broad podcast, you can be flexible with length. However, for niche audiences, their lifestyle should influence the optimal length of engagement.

For example, a typical workout offers the perfect chance to catch up with your favorite health and fitness podcast. You, as the fitness podcast host, should tailor the length to fit, for example, a one-hour lifting session. 

A Common Mistake: Prioritizing Length Before Depth

After reading the previous section, you may think that these typical lengths are something set in stone that you need to comply with. This couldn’t be further from the truth. They are guidelines and should be treated as such.

You should strive to prioritize content quality over length. Don't stretch conversations to meet time quotas or have episodes with filler content. Being concise and to the point will keep your audience engaged.

A rich and short conversation with a guest can last only 25–30 minutes. There is no point in having a meandering conversation lasting an hour. 

It’s key that you familiarize yourself with your episode’s content; well-investigated topics with precise notes should be your priority. Then you will see how much time it occupies.

How Long Should Your Podcast Episodes Be? Use Metrics To Find Out

Performing deep dives into your episode metrics should be a common practice for you. Different platforms will give you insights into your content’s performance. Let’s take Spotify for example, perhaps the most popular platform for podcasting.

Spotify has a dedicated dashboard for podcasters, separated into three categories:

  • Overview, where you’ll find mainly info about plays, playing time, and audience size.
  • Audience, which is where the more specific aspects of your listeners are grouped, like gender, age, and location.
  • Episode rankings, quite self-explanatory; they measure your episodes against each other.

When thinking about how long your episodes should be, overview is the category you’ll find most useful. In this tab, you’ll find two key stats: reproductions and listener retention

  • Listener retention breaks down the exact moment when a listener abandons the podcast. Contrast this information across all your episodes and find patterns. Would this improve if you cut it short by a couple of minutes? Or was the episode a bit lacking in content? You’ll have the means to make an informed decision.
  • Reproductions are the king of stats, and they can make or break your podcast. A reproduction is counted every time a listener surpasses the 60-second mark. How can you use it to determine your ideal episode length? If you try different lengths, check which ones have the most reproductions. Can you find a pattern? Maybe your shorter episodes garner more views, or perhaps your listeners expect some more long-format content from you.

Maximize Engagement With Audiotease

Keeping your podcast episodes at an ideal length can help keep your audience engaged. However, it's also crucial to maintain their interest and anticipation for new episodes through effective promotion on social media platforms. After all, a diverse presence on social media can make your engagement numbers skyrocket, and audiograms are great for that. With Audiotease, you can effortlessly convert your show’s highlights into eye-catching short videos to engage your audience across platforms. 

No design or editing skills are needed, try Audiotease today and create your first audiogram for free.