Podcast Ratings vs. Podcast Reviews: What’s the Difference?

When you look at a podcast in Apple Podcasts, you might see a line with the number of ratings. This sometimes gets misquoted as the number of reviews. This can lead to even more confusion if you count the number of reviews and see that there aren't as many as you expected.

Here's why that is, and what the difference is.

What is a podcast rating?

A podcast rating is a measure of how much someone likes or dislikes a podcast, typically measured in 1 to 5 stars.

Some people might interpret the meanings behind number of stars differently. For example, we've seen some people think giving a podcast 2 stars was a good thing, like “2 thumbs up.” So here's a general guideline of what the rating levels often mean.

5 stars: Love it!
4 stars: Really like it
3 stars: It's okay
2 stars: Dislike it
1 star: Hate it

Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podchaser, and Goodpods allow audiences to rate podcasts without requiring written reviews. On Apple Podcasts and Spotify, such ratings are essentially anonymous, but podcast ratings on Podchaser and Goodpods include audience profiles.

What is a podcast review?

A podcast review allows audience members to write what they think about the podcast (or episode, in some apps), and usually why they gave it the star rating they chose.

Spotify doesn't allow audiences to write podcast reviews, but Apple Podcasts, Podchaser, Goodpods, and Podcast Addict all allow written reviews from podcast audiences.

Each of these written podcast reviews usually contain a rating, too. Podchaser actually allows audiences to review a podcast without giving it a rating, but almost everyone who writes a podcast review also includes a star rating.

What's the difference?

So in most cases, podcast ratings and be given without written reviews, but podcast reviews almost always include star ratings.

This also leads to the differences you might see in the number of podcast ratings versus podcast reviews.

You actually can't see this different counts in Apple Podcasts or Podcasts Connect, but you can see them clearly when you track your podcast engagement with Podgagement.

Let's look at two podcasts for examples.

Somebody Somewhere, from RainStream Media, is a popular podcast, which you can see from its current count of 1,775 ratings across 23 countries (not including Spotify ratings).

But note that of the 1,775 podcast ratings, only 301 of them include written podcast reviews. This is probably from fans who love the podcast, but took only the time to select a number of stars to rate the podcast.

There can be many reasons for audience members to do this, so it does not indicate anything “bad” about the podcast or their audience. It's simply how the audience of Somebody Somewhere chose or understood to engage with the podcast through the ratings and reviews.

Now look at Podcasting Made Simple, with Alex Sanfilippo. This is a podcast about podcasting with an audience of mostly podcasters (similar to The Audacity to Podcast). Already, this means the audience is more savvy within podcast apps than the average podcast-consumer.

Glancing at the podcast reviews, it becomes quickly apparent that the audience was probably asked to mention their favorite episodes or favorite takeaways. That little bit of guidance gave them more to write about, and thus while this podcast has 657 ratings (not counting Spotify) across 19 countries, 650 of those ratings also include written reviews.

The audience chose and understood how to engage deeper, and thus wrote more reviews than only ratings.

Consider ratings versus reviews as an indication of engagement

Whatever the size of your podcast, we suggest that you look at percentages instead of numbers.

Strive for a higher percentage of your ratings to include reviews, and strive for a higher percentage of all your ratings and reviews to be 5 stars.

Although this doesn't make your podcast rank better, it does appear more compelling to a potential audience considering your podcast.

And if you're looking for the easiest way track this yourself, try Podgagement to track your podcast engagement, ratings, reviews, and more!


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