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How many podcast episodes should be in a “season?”

Arranging your podcast into seasons can help reduce the risk of “podfading.” It’s easier for you—and for your audience—to think about your show as a finite group of episodes. You can then choose to frame up whether your show gets “renewed” or takes a planned break once in a while. 

When starting a weekly podcast series, you’re under much pressure to churning out weekly podcasts forever. Not only does this give your production team a break to regroup, but it also keeps your podcast fresh and exciting for your listeners. Seasons are a win-win for the podcaster and the audience – content creation is easier for the podcaster, and your audience can access your content more effectively and efficiently. 

If you’re new to podcasting and considering using seasons to present your content, you may be wondering how many podcast episodes should be in a “season.” When working with clients that use a season format, we often recommend a season of 12 weekly episodes to match quarterly calendars. This system allows for a “week off” or a “best of” replay to keep your feed fresh while you’re on break. Focus on getting those 12 episodes off the ground, and avoid content creation burnout!

When planning out your seasons, you can cover your topics in a logical progression that builds on the previous episode. Each season can follow the central theme, and each episode can cover a highlighted topic, or discrete element, within the central theme. This format makes it incredibly easy for your listeners to find older episodes covering a particular topic in which they are interested. The best podcast publishing platforms support numbering shows as “season X episode Y” to help listeners better organize their feeds and revisit archived shows.

If you’re posting a block of episodes all at once for binging, aim for a run of between 4-10 episodes. That is the right amount of content the listener can absorb and develop loyalty for your content. Binging creates fast and devoted fans! Using a seasonal format is inherently purposefully organized, so your listeners can always go back and find the episodes they are interested in if they are in the mood to binge. You can link to various episodes or seasons any time, allowing your listeners to binge a series as if it was an audiobook.

Advantages to thinking about podcasts in “seasons” for production:

  • Similar to how television producers operate — audiences already understand the term.
  • Framing as seasons prevents the perception of “podfading” — easier to commit yourself to a block of episodes with a specific beginning and end date. You can decide to “renew” for an additional “season.”
  • Seasons are also attractive to prospective sponsors/patrons. You have the opportunity to negotiate with sponsors for the entire season.
  • Instead of brainstorming a new topic every week, you’re following a plan over several weeks or months.
  • You get to take a break between seasons to recharge and relieve stress from continually creating content. Not only will you be excited about the next season, but your listeners will too!

“I think the TV season model is a fantastic one for podcasters (and listeners), and my upcoming podcast will be following that model with 12 episode seasons.

I … feel that taking the pressure off on constant content creation is one of the biggest pros. Doing it this way will allow me to batch-process pre-production (lining up guests, etc.), production, and post-production thus saving precious time and avoiding the feeling of having to juggle all the plates at once. A potential con would be not being able to respond to certain trends and feedback along the way (say, acknowledging a faster-than-expected audience growth or putting in advertisers), but I think this can be minimized if I save episode finalization for the week of release and add a post-script (as seamlessly as possible).”

—Tom Lemke, from The Audacity To Podcast

Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing linear numbering (episode #964!), but breaking your content into seasons makes it easier for new listeners to explore back catalog content. Think about making it easier for your audience to discover more about what your podcast has to offer!

Because every show’s a little different, we invite prospective clients to hop on a complimentary discovery session call with our team. We’ll be happy to walk you through how we help design an effective season format for our clients.

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