As the most distributed content, viewership is important. That is certainly the case with podcasts. Unfortunately, it looks like the Podcasts app for Apple Watch does more harm than good.
According to a press release from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), via MacRumorsApple’s Smart Watch Podcasts app inflates numbers. IAB discovered when a new podcast episode was automatically downloaded to the Apple Watch, it was counted twice. The first download to the iPhone and then the second to the Apple Watch.
The problem is that when this happens, it is viewed on the back end as downloaded by two different users. As a result, this inflates audience numbers by default.
Concerns have recently been raised about Apple’s watchOS Podcasts app. Downloads to an Apple Watch appear to be duplicated by downloads to a user’s iPhone after the clock completes the sync cycle. This result can result in significantly inflated reporting of downloads and listeners.
IAB notes that Apple Watch makes up only a small number of podcast listeners. And it’s also confirmed that only Apple’s Podcasts app for the smartwatch inflates the numbers. However, these fake numbers are not good for podcast hosts trying to get real listeners / viewers.
As a result, IAB’s participating partners have agreed to make changes. From 1 October 2020, traffic registered by Apple Watch will no longer be counted. It will really make a dent in the audience numbers, but it sounds like that’s the only move to make for now.
However, the IAB has also said that they are working with Apple to reach a satisfactory solution:
Tech Lab has made efforts to partner with Apple to support a means of distinguishing automatic downloads from valid downloads coming from Apple Watch devices. Should Apple take steps to clearly distinguish between the automatic downloads from user-initiated downloads, take other corrective action or make any other changes affecting this guide, it will be revised or withdrawn.
If there is a solution in the future, it sounds like Apple Watch traffic can be counted again. There is no timeline for it to become a reality.