"Downloads" are currently the industry-standard way of measuring a podcast's audience, they are visible evidence on the server-side (hosting companies and analytics prefixes) without the need for any coordination or special APIs from every podcast player app.
Of course, many podcast apps auto-download episodes, so a Download does not necessarily equal a Listen. Learn more about podcast stats.
Over time, podcast hosting companies and advertising standards entities such as the IAB have developed best practices about turning raw server logs into unique listener requests.
As part of OP3's commitment to auditable infrastructure, our download calculation is described below, with links to any relevant codepaths.
OP3 sees incoming HTTP requests for podcast episode media files as soon as podcasters add our prefix to podcast episodes in their feed.
All incoming requests are quickly redirected to their destination with a 302 and logged, but not all requests become Downloads:
Downloads are associated to a podcast by matching the normalized url (removing tracking prefixes and client-added params) to an enclosure or alternate enclosure found in a public podcast feed.