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Podcasts manipulate Apple top list by fiddling with subscribers

Podcasts have tried to influence the Apple list of most popular podcasts by cheating with subscribers last week, according to an analyst. A few weeks ago an unknown podcast suddenly appeared on spot 1 of the top list.

Because Apple probably bases its top list on new subscribers, it seems that such podcasts get fake subscribers to push their place up the list, speculates Chartable based on an own analysis. Apple has put back some podcasts a few weeks ago, but they are already climbing in the list. This includes a podcast about real estate, which briefly took over the first position of the well-known podcast series Serial.

Chartable deduces the probable shodding of a few elements, due to the lack of transparent listening figures of podcasts. First, the new toppers have relatively few reviews and reviews in iTunes, while many popular podcasts have a lot of them. Moreover, the new toppers were not very popular in other podcast apps, which sometimes show the number of subscribers.

In addition, Chartable looked at the recommendations that Apple itself does among the top podcasts. These are based on what subscribers of that podcast listen to even more. This shows that some of the ‘shameful’ podcasts are recommended among themselves, which indicates that many subscribers follow different of the podcasts in question.

The fiddling with the list may have consequences especially for smaller podcast makers, who are therefore less easy in regions where users can discover them by chance, claims Hot Pod. The consequences for large podcast makers would be small.

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