While podcasts cover a broad range of topics, true crime is by far the most common topic of top-ranked podcasts.
About a quarter of top podcasts (24%) are primarily about true crime – often investigations into murders, scandals and other criminal acts. Many of these focus on a single crime across the series, such as The Execution of Bonny Lee Bakley, an in-depth investigation of Bakley’s murder and her connections to Hollywood celebrities (including her husband Robert Blake). Other top podcasts cover several crimes. For example, Morbid often spends one or two episodes on each incident.
The topics of top podcasts that follow true crime include politics and government (10%); entertainment, pop culture and the arts (9%); and self-help and relationships (8%).
Top-ranked podcasts about politics span across the ideological spectrum, from conservative-oriented podcasts like former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s Bannon’s War Room to Pod Save America, a podcast hosted by several former Obama staffers.
Top-ranked entertainment podcasts, meanwhile, tend to cover specific areas of entertainment or pop culture, like The Official Game of Thrones Podcast, which offers listeners a behind-the-scenes view into the popular TV series, or Brain Structure, which is hosted by video game designer Hideo Kojima. But some entertainment podcasts are broader in scope, such as Vulture’s pop culture podcast Into It, hosted by Sam Sanders.
Self-help podcasts are about everything from personal finance (e.g., Dave Ramsey’s The Ramsey Show), to leadership (e.g., Dare to Lead with Brené Brown) or broader motivation (e.g., The Mindset Mentor).
Another 6% of top podcasts are about sports, while 4% focus on history.
One-in-five top-ranked podcasts focus on multiple topics. These tend to follow one of a few formats: In some, each episode is about a different topic, while in others the host(s) talk about a range of topics within the same episode, such as The Joe Rogan Experience or Suburb Talks.
Many of the topics that are common across these top podcasts are also among the most common topics named by U.S. podcast listeners. Roughly a third or more of U.S. podcast listeners regularly listen to podcasts about entertainment (46%), politics (41%), history (40%), true crime (34%) and self-help and relationships (32%).