Every new podcaster wonders how long their podcast should be, but the truth is there is no right answer to that question. The length of a podcast is best determined by your content, audience, and by following the rule of quality over quantity. While we can take a look at samples and regular customs regarding podcasts, you should really experiment with different lengths to see what works best with your listeners.
Podcast Length Averages
So where do most podcasts land in terms of length? In 2019 the average length of a podcast was 37 minutes, with gaming and wrestling coming out on the top of the list averaging just over an hour in length, and language learning coming in at the bottom of the list at just over seven minutes in length.
Since these are just averages, you need to keep in mind that some podcasts are only a couple of minutes long while others are multiple hours long. Entertainment, mystery shows, comedy, and the like are great at keeping an audience’s attention span.
Content in Context
Those averages make sense considering the content. If it makes sense to let the podcast go on longer than 30 minutes or an hour, then that is fine. Other categories don’t need to be drawn out and can get to the point much sooner, such as in business or finance podcasts. Podcasts that deal in entertainment often entail interviews, show reviews, and industry news. Those podcasts will naturally be longer than instructional podcasts which often need to be short so as not overwhelm the listener with information.
So in determining the length of your podcast, you need to consider how much time you will need to achieve your goal of delivering good content.
The length of a podcast is also determined by considering your intended audience. When and where a listener tunes in often determines the amount of time the listener can devote to a podcast. A podcast that fills the time appropriately with enjoyable content is a podcast that listeners will return to. Therefore, a podcast that is geared towards commuters should remain in the twenty six-minute range, the average length of a commute, whereas a podcast geared towards long-distance travelers can be longer. Since people traveling on planes, trains, and in cars often have more time to devote to listening and want to be entertained for longer amounts of time, your podcast can be a little longer.
Setting Realistic Goals
The goal of any podcast should be a satisfied listener. A podcast should end at just the right time so that the listener is satisfied or left just wanting a little bit more. Any more than what is needed and listener interest will begin to wane and you risk losing your audience.
Stretching material to fit a predetermined time slot is never a good idea. Self-editing is an important tool in keeping a podcast interesting. Conversely, not fully exploring a topic because you are adhering to artificial time constraints can be just as damaging. Listeners then may walk away unsatisfied.
Consistency can go a long way to developing an audience in podcasting. Before you undertake your journey into podcasting you need to consider the destination. If you start your podcasts with hour-long episodes, will you be able to sustain it? Do you plan to release your podcast on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? Will you have enough material to fill the for the format you choose? All these things will play a role in determining how long your podcast should be.
The bottom line is there is no right or wrong answer to how long a podcast should be. There are many factors that will determine the length of your podcast, but considering your audience, the content you provide, and how often you will provide it, should help make your decision easier.