The Data Usage of Podcasts: A Comprehensive Guide

Long-form content, such as podcasts, has become increasingly popular since video and audio streaming platforms emerged in recent decades. Now podcast lovers can listen to their favorite conversations on their daily commute, while exercising or when relaxing at home.

Do podcasts use data?

Yes – like any content that you stream over the internet, podcasts will use data. Due to the long-form nature of podcasts, they can use a significant portion of your mobile data, particularly if you listen to them often. Data will be used whether you stream podcasts or download them. 

Any information that is streamed or downloaded onto a smartphone, tablet, or other devices will eat into your data allowance.

This is because the device has to receive the data from an online source so that it can be played back in an audio or video format for your enjoyment.

Thankfully, there are ways that you can minimize the amount of data that podcasts use.

We’ll cover all of this and more in this detailed guide.

Do Podcasts Use Data?

Now that we have access to basically any content, whether it is a song, album, movie, or podcast at all times, it’s easy to forget that consuming media will use data.

This may not be an issue if you pay for unlimited data on your devices, but for those who have a limit, it’s important to track how much is being used.

Listening to a song or watching a short video isn’t likely to significantly eat into your data unless you do so many times a day. Podcasts, on the other hand, are generally longer than most other forms of media, which means they will use more data.

Podcasts can be enjoyed in two different ways. Firstly, you can stream only the audio from the podcast, or some podcasts allow you to watch the footage from the conversation too.

Listening to podcasts with no visual content will use significantly less data because your device only needs to process the audio information rather than also needing to process video information.

If you’re in the habit of listening to or downloading podcasts every day or multiple times per week, then there’s a good chance this will be taking its toll on your data allowance.

Is it Better to Stream or Download Podcasts?

When it comes to consuming podcasts, you can either stream them from your preferred platform or download them using a tool like Spotify or Apple Music’s offline downloading feature.

But which is better for data conserving? 

Streaming a podcast means that it will occupy no space on your smartphone, computer, tablet, or any other device. It requires you to have an internet connection throughout the time that you’re streaming the podcast, which can be challenging if you’re traveling, for example.

The obvious advantage of downloading a podcast as opposed to streaming it is that you can then listen to it regardless of whether or not you have an internet connection. This means you can switch your phone onto airplane mode, and enjoy a three-hour podcast without being interrupted by messages or calls.

If you download a podcast while you are connected to Wi-Fi, then you won’t use any of your mobile data in the process. The podcast may take a while to download, though, particularly if it is hours long. However, you then have the podcast on your phone to listen to whenever you like.

Alternatively, if you stream a podcast, you will still be using data unless you are connected to Wi-Fi. The only difference is that you won’t be able to enjoy the podcast unless you have some sort of internet connection wherever you are when you want to resume listening to it.

The most compelling argument for downloading a podcast instead of streaming it is simply that this will allow you to listen to it in its entirety without being disrupted by poor network coverage.

However, it’s important to be aware that if you download a full-length podcast without Wi-Fi, you will use a considerable amount of data which will far exceed the amount you would use by simply streaming it.

How Much Data Does a 30min Podcast Use?

The amount of data that a 30-minute podcast uses is dependent on several variables.

The platform that you are streaming the podcast on is a big factor. Secondly, whether the podcast is audio-only, or is accompanied by a video will also impact the data usage, and finally, the bitrate or quality of the podcast needs to be considered.

If you’re listening to a 30-minute podcast on Spotify with no video at the default normal quality setting, you can expect to use around 20 MB of data.

At the high-quality setting, you will be using around 35 MB every half an hour, and if you choose the highest quality available to Spotify Premium subscribers, you will be using 75 MB of data.

Podcasts that are watched and listened to on platforms like YouTube will use even more data. at a low-quality setting of 240p, a podcast on YouTube will use 48 MB every 30 minutes.

If you choose the default, 480p setting to watch your podcast on YouTube, it will use somewhere in the region of 120 MB in half an hour. Finally, at a high-quality setting of 1080p, you can expect to use 360 MB for a 30-minute podcast, which is a considerable amount of data!

If we compare this to other streaming apps and forms of media, such as watching a TV show or movie on Netflix, podcasts are much less taxing on your data.

In standard definition, watching a show on Netflix for 30 minutes will result in 500 MB of data being used. In HD, this increases to 1.5 GB, and in ultra-HD, you will be using somewhere in the region of 3.5 GB every 30 minutes!

If you’re concerned that you’re using too much data when listening to or watching podcasts, it’s a good idea to lower the quality as this has a significant impact on the amount of data that will be used.

Platform30 min Data (Standard Quality)30 min Data (High Quality)30 min Data (Ultra-High Quality)
Spotify500 MB1.5 GB3.5 GB
YouTube48 MB120 MB360 MB
Netflix500 MB1.5 GB3.5 GB
Disney +500 MB1.1 GB2.55 GB
Table showing data usage for streaming podcasts

How to Listen to Podcasts Without Using Data

The best way to enjoy listening to podcasts without using mobile data is by downloading them when you are connected to Wi-Fi. Unlike mobile data, most Wi-Fi plans provide unlimited data which won’t run out after you’ve used a certain amount.

Check out this YouTube video that shows how to download Spotify podcasts.

Most popular platforms that have podcasts on them allow you to download content for offline playing. Spotify Premium and Apple Music both have this feature, as does YouTube Premium. Simply select the podcast you want to download, and it will be indeed to your offline library.

It’s important to be aware that if you aren’t connected to Wi-Fi when you download a podcast, you will be using your data to do so, and this could result in a lot being used. Podcasts are generally long-form pieces of content, and this means the file will be larger than other forms of media.

Ensure that you’re connected to Wi-Fi before you download the podcast if you want to avoid wasting data. Then, you may need to wait for a while for the podcast to download, particularly if it is long. some apps allow you to listen to the podcast while it is in the process of being downloaded.

Related Questions

Does streaming audio use less data than video?

Streaming audio uses considerably less data than streaming video. This depends on the quality of the video, and the platform that you are using, but in general, watching videos will use a lot more data than if you’re simply listening to music.

How many MB is a song on Spotify?

If you listen to one song on Spotify, this will result in you using around 5 MB on average. Obviously, songs come in many different lengths, so the longer the song is, the more data you will use when listening to it.

How can I use less data when listening to podcasts?

The most effective way to save your data when listening to podcasts is by downloading them to your device rather than streaming them on the internet. However, you need to make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi before downloading them.

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