Apple Reveals Most Popular Podcast Subscriptions and Free Channels (Podcast News Roundup)

Happy International Podcast Day! In today’s podcast news roundup, Apple releases the top 10 most-subscribed podcasts and free channels, Spotify adds Q&A and polling features for podcast creators, and more.


Apple for the first time has shared the top paid podcast subscriptions and free channels worldwide, from June 15 through September 15, providing a look at the most popular properties three months after the tech giant launched the services.

Apple’s top paid subscriptions are ranked in order of total subscribed listeners worldwide over the past three months and includes both channels and individual shows. The top free channels ranking is based on total listeners worldwide over the past three months for shows united under each channel and excludes fully paid or “freemium” channels (those with a mix of free and paid content). Apple Podcasts measures listeners as the number of unique devices that have played at least 1 second of an episode.

Top Apple Podcasts Subscriptions

1. Wondery Plus
2. Luminary
3. Sword and Scale Plus Light from Incongruity
4. TenderfootPlus+ from Tenderfoot TV
5. PushNik from Pushkin Industries
6. QCode Plus
7. Imperative Premium Series
8. Podimo Deutschland from Podimo
9. U Up? from Betches Media
10. The Handoff from CNN

Top Free Channels on Apple Podcasts

1. The New York Times
2. Audiochuck
3. iHeartPodcast Network
4. Barstool Sports
5. Dateline NBC
6. ABC News
7. TED Audio Collective
9. Crooked Media
10. Ramble


Spotify and Anchor, its podcast self-publishing division, are introducing new Q&A and polls features for podcast creators. If a creator has chosen to post a question or poll for a specific episode, listeners will be able to find the question at the bottom of the episode page from their Spotify mobile app (on iOS and Android). Depending on whether the creator chose an open-ended Q&A or a poll, listeners can follow the prompt to respond in-app. After responding to a poll, listeners will then get to see how the entire audience of respondents voted, and how their answer stacked up. For Q&As, listener responses will be delivered privately to the creator. Creators can then choose and pin specific featured responses that will appear publicly below the question (displaying the respondent’s Spotify username). Starting Thursday, these features are available to all Anchor creators and Spotify listeners in 160 markets.

Spotify also launched “Find the One,” a new digital experience that introduces fans to some of the podcasts the streamer thinks they’ll be most compatible with. At, visitors can fill out a quiz with questions like “How does your perfect podcast win you over? and “What kind of commitment are you looking for?” and Spotify will deliver a personalized podcast recommendation. Today, the platform hosts more than 2.9 million podcasts.


The New York Post and Sports Business Journal announced the launch of “The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast,” featuring journalists Andrew Marchand of the Post and John Ourand of SBJ. The new podcast, premiering Oct. 6 on all major audio platforms, will cover the business “beyond the buzzer,” including the latest headlines, network deals, ratings, and trends.

iHeartMedia‘s “Queen of the Con: The Irish Heiress” podcast, co-produced by AYR Media, debuted Sept. 30. The show recounts the story of Marianne “Mair” Smyth, the international con artist who scammed her way through Hollywood from 2013-17. Host Jonathan Walton, a TV show producer — and Mair’s best-friend-turned-victim — shares his personal history with the woman who stole his life savings and his arduous quest to bring her to justice. Listen to the trailer at this link.

Monica Lewinsky joins David Axelrod on the Sept. 30 episode of CNN Audio‘s “The Axe Files” podcast. On the show, Lewinsky talks about her upbringing and her parents’ tumultuous divorce, her struggles with mental health and suicidal thoughts following her affair with former President Bill Clinton, the dangers of social media and how she took back control of her own story, most recently as a producer on “Impeachment: American Crime Story.” Listen to the full episode at this link.

WBUR’s “Endless Thread” podcast on Oct. 1 will launch a new series focusing on the origin, manipulation and cultural impact of memes — the internet’s way of communicating humorous and far-out ideas. “Endless Thread’s” meme series will cover everything from “Kilroy Was Here” and “Rick Rolling” to the impact of memes using images taken out of context. Listen to the series trailer at this link.

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