iTunes Ratings/Rankings – A Show Bigger Than Oprah!

by Cliff Ravenscraft on May 16, 2011

I don’t typically like to double post my blog posts. I just published the following on our network blog at There is no doubt that there are going to be many people who frequent who are not subscribed to the community blog.

The following blog post was written to the community as a whole. For those who don’t know it, I consider any person who listens any of our podcasts on an ongoing basis as members of our community. When we talk about “Joining The Community” our about page shares several ways people choose to “Join The Community.” Check out the list at

I thought this post would be of interest here as it gives some insights into how a podcast can rise in the rankings within iTunes. Before you read this, I want to warn that publicly asking for reviews, in the way that I have done here, can potentially backfire on you. I had done this for our LOST podcast many years ago and we received a large number of 1 star ratings and negative reviews because we had done that. However, in that case, a majority of this came from another podcast in that niche field who saw us as competition, rather than just another community of people who shared a passion for the same topic as another set of podcasters.

People questioning my motives for doing things is not new. All you need to do is listen to Podcast Answer Man Episode 198 to learn that. However, you will read, at throughout the post, why I took the time to bring the topic of ratings and provide clear details on how to help our new podcast rise to the top of the charts.

With that said. Here’s the post….

In all fairness to Oprah, the way that iTunes ranks podcasts is favorable to podcasts that have a great deal of “recent activity.” Many of you know that we just launched the Hunger Games Fan Podcast a few weeks ago. The podcast has only been in iTunes for two weeks now and we have already risen through the charts and have ranked 26th out of all podcasts in the “Literature” category, just barely beating out Oprah’s Book Club podcast!

This simply means that within the last several days, our podcast has had more activity than Oprah’s, in iTunes. By activity in iTunes, I mean written reviews, ratings from iTunes users (giving a 5 star rating really boosts the ranking), and simply having people actually click the Subscribe Button from within the iTunes Directory itself.

Why would I even care about our ranking for this new podcast? It’s because our Entertainment podcasts have always been what has provided the largest amount of exposure to the community and our overall network of content. Our LOST, Greys Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, and Twilight Podcasts together have brought tens of thousands of new subscribers to over the years.

The Hunger Games podcast is on target to do the same. Getting featured in the “Literature” category is a big deal to a podcast devoted to one of hottest new series of books out there. This will change throughout the days, but right now, if someone were to go to the iTunes Store and then browse through the podcast categories looking for Podcasts in the Arts/Literature section, this is what they would see.

The fact that we are so prominently featured in the “New & Noteworthy” section, along with the initial activity of the community is why we have risen to where we are today. The goal, however, is to get iTunes to really take notice of our new show. So much so that they put us in the “Featured – What’s Hot” Section. The icon for our show won’t be as big. However, being on the the front page for this category of podcasts will be much longer lived than our feature in the “New & Noteworthy.”

So how does iTunes choose who get’s in to the featured What’s Hot section? It’s completely up to them! But I do know that you must have decent artwork and they must see that there is a great deal of general interest in your show.

With all that said, I ask if you have checked out the podcast and like it, please be sure that you are signed into your iTunes account and do one or all of the following three things.

1) Go to the iTunes Page (LINK HERE) and Subscribe to the podcast from iTunes.
2) Click on the number of starts for the rating you think we deserve.
3) Write a sentence or two review of the podcast or our network.

Here’s an image that shows where you would click to do the above three things:

If everyone reading this post were to do the above, we would easily rise to the top 10 podcasts in Literature and if we can hold a spot in the top 50 for a week or more, we could very well get featured by our friends at iTunes for this category.

I feel that it is important to stress that the reason for my desire to do this is to bring more people to an awareness of what we have going on here at It’s time to invite more people to “Join The Community.!

Here’s a screen grab showing our current standing, as I am writing this post, just above Oprah! Thank you all so much!

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  • Anonymous

     Great job Cliff!  Continue doing the great you are always doing.  Wish you many blessings!

  • Thank you! I am glad that you are enjoying the posts where I share what I’m up to!

  • Keith

     Cliff…I have been getting a ton of review, all positive for my Harvest Eating Podcast at  we have over 35 ratings and I was wondering how I could get iTunes attention.

    Regardless of ratings and iTunes, I am having a blast doing my show and getting TONS of positive feedback on Facebook, our on-site forums and personal emails and orders and subscriptions….will be nice to be recognized by iTunes however!!

    Best Cliff!

  • Interaction with your audience is most criticale component for sure. To get that “featured” spot in iTunes is a total crap shoot as these are “hand picked” by a very small number of folks at Apple, from what I’ve been told.

  • John Skiba

    Hey Cliff:  I started listening to your podcast about three months ago and the information you provide is great.  I have started a podcast along with my site .  Thanks for this article in particular.  I have been going through iTunes trying to figure out the criteria they use for rankings and what is considered “New and Noteworthy”.  With a lot of them it seems so random.  Some of the new podcasts are great and some not-so great.
    Thanks again.
    John Skiba

  • aronoff

    Our Podcast, Super Dad Show was in the New and Noteworthy in Kids and Family for about a month and a half. We were bumped from that, and immediately fell to below 200. HELP! Yargh!! we’re at episode 11, and we’re in it for the long haul… .any advice??

  • [email protected]?  Yes.  Be thankful that you lasted in New & Noteworthy for as long as you did.  Now, go and continue to CONSISTENTLY create GREAT CONTENT and build a LOYAL BASE of RAVING FANS and ask them to rate and review your podcast. 😉  

  • SecondSilicon

    Also a big fan here too, Cliff. I have question about iTunes rankings. If my podcast is not in the top ten, which clearly it’s not, and not in new and noteworthy, is there a way to check the overall ranking for a specific category, such as business?

    Thanks a bunch.


  • SecondSilicon No, unfortunately not.  If you browse through top podcasts in the desktop version of iTunes you can see the top 200.  But that’s it.

  • Scott Woodard

    We launched our pop culture podcast, The G2V Podcast, back in May of last year, plus we added a second podcast two weeks ago (focused on The Walking Dead). We have been struggling to get ratings/comments on iTunes, but despite our pleas to friends via Facebook, despite our 1500+ followers (for G2V) and 560 for our Walking Dead show (on Twitter), we STILL only have 10 ratings and a handful of reviews on iTunes!!! Is there ANYTHING more we can be doing to boost the signal on iTunes or are we stuck now?

  • Scott Woodard  Scott, at this point, I would suggest that you simply focus on creating amazing content and going out of your way to show your existing audience how much you love them.   If you understand what I mean when I say that and you actually do it, you’ll find that if you, occasionally, ask nicely at the end of your show, you will slowly get new ratings and reviews.

    When I wrote this blog post, a few years back, I had already been podcasting for five and a half years and already had a total reach of about 200,000 people (if you combined the audience numbers from every show that we had produced at that time).

    I know that this post is focused on the ratings and reviews.  However, if you browse through my content, you’ll see that a post for this is very much out of the norm for me.  My philosophy is focus on serving your community and not on how your community  can serve you.

    I hope that this helps.

  • FiveMinuteMusic

    Hi Cliff. Thanks for all the amazing work you do for the podcast community.  I just recently launched a new podcast (Five Minute Pearls for Clinical Practice) for healthcare providers and healthcare students.  We were fortunate to be listed in New & Noteworthy” after about 4 weeks and subsequently surged into the top 10 rankings under the “Medicine” category. The question I have is that some days we’ll be ranked very highly (we’ve gotten as high as #3 in the ranking) but on other days we’re completely off the list.  For example, on Monday we were in the top 10 ranking but on Tuesday morning we fell out of the top 200 but on Wednesday we were back in the top 10. How is it possible that we can rise so quickly and fall so quickly in the rankings?  

    Thanks for any thoughts you can provide.


    Brian Morris

  • FiveMinuteMusic  Apple does not release any data about it’s algorithm.  My biggest advice is to not get too focused on the stats and rankings.  Instead, spend all that time focused on creating great content and connecting with the amazing people who are already subscribed to your show.

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