Compiled by
Evo Terra
- Published on
January 5, 2024

I’m a bit of a data nerd, so I was excited by the opportunity to pull together some stats from last year in a recap form. Yes, I realize most look-back articles were posted near the end of 2023, but I’ve always found that rather dumb, as I prefer to wait until the calendar has turned the final page. (Remember when we only had paper calendars? Ah, the old old days.) 

This is our first Annual Report. Or State of The End. Or some other clever name I’m sure I’ll come up with later. For now, let’s get into some of 2023’s interesting audio fiction data, at least as we have it in our ever-growing fiction podcast—and more—directory.

402 Audio Fiction Shows Submitted to The End in 2023

Keeping in mind this was our first calendar year and therefore have no benchmark to compare, I’m pretty stoked by that number. Those 402 submitted shows means we received 1.1 new submissions on average each and every day last year. Keep on keepin’ on, audio fiction creators!

As you know, we list audiodramas, audiobooks, fiction podcasts, radio plays, and other sorts of scripted (and occasionally unscripted) audio shows of a fictional nature in our directory only after one of these three conditions is met: the series is complete, a season finale has been posted, or the show is starting a new season soon

Here’s a breakdown of last year’s submissions grouped by those conditions:

Graph showing data below in donut chart form
  • 40% (160) were Season Finales
  • 34% (or 138) were Completed Series
  • 26% (or 104) were New Seasons Starting Soon

I’m a slightly less talented statistician than I am a predictor of human behavior, but I’m hoping next year's report has Completed Series outperforming Season Finales. But I’d bet money (not very much money) that we’ll see more New Season Starting Soon as well next year.

OK, that’s a quick look at the total “input,” if you will. It gets more fun when I dig into the output, I think you’ll find.

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328 Audio Fiction Shows Added to The End’s Directory Were Completed In 2023

That title needs a little unpacking and squaring against the number of submissions. Because you might be wondering what happened to the 74 shows that didn’t get listed? Well… they did. They just weren’t completed in 2023. Creators can—and are encouraged to—submit their shows that were completed prior to 2023. This may come a shock to some, but fiction podcasting has been around since 2004, and audiodramas, audiobooks, and radio theater have been around for a lot longer than that! 

In this section, I’m focusing just on the 328 shows we added to our directory that had ending dates sometime in 2023. Here’s how they break down:

Graph showing data below in donut chart form
  • 57% (188) additions to our audio fiction directory in 2023 were Season Finales
  • 32% (106) additions in 2023 were Completed Series
  • 10% (34) were New Seasons that started up again in 2023 

The dominance of Season Finales is more striking here, yet not at all surprising. While reaching a season finale is quite a milestone (far too many fiction podcasts are abandoned after a handful of episodes), wrapping up the entire series is a much more herculean effort. So yeah, I see a third of additions as Season Finales as a win, for sure.

But not all Season Finales are created equal, and we can go deeper on those 188 shows. Shocking absolutely no one, here's how those 188 finale’d shows break down:

Graph showing data below in donut chart form
  • 128 Season 1 finales
  • 24 Season 2 finales
  • 23 Season 3 finales
  • 4 Season 4 finales
  • 4 Season 5 finales
  • 2 Season 7 finales (no additions for Season 6 finales)
  • 2 Season 8 finales
  • 1 Season 9 finale

I don’t have much insight here, other than to say… well, duh! 

One of these days, I may do a study of Season Finales that convert to Completed Series. But today is not that day. But I can do something similar right now by looking deeper at the 34 new Seasons Started and which season they are returning for.

Wow, that was a poorly constructed sentence. I’ll let the chart better explain what I mean:

Graph showing data below in donut chart form

Granted, 34 shows isn’t a very big dataset. Regardless, even limited data is sometimes interesting, and here it is in bullet form: 

  • 22 shows returned for their 2nd season
  • 5 shows returned for their 3rd season
  • 2 shows returned for their 4th season
  • 1 show returned for the 5th season

Yeah, I think I’ll try to make that about “conversions” in next year's report. 

Fiction Podcasts Dominated Audio Fiction Shows in 2023

Audio fiction listeners have myriad choices of not just what we listen to, but where we listen to it, thanks largely to fiction podcasting. Out of the 328 audio fiction shows we added to our directory in 2023 that were also completed in 2023, only 5% didn’t come with an RSS feed:

Graph showing data below in donut chart form

The breakdown of “where else” isn’t all that interesting, since it’s only 17 shows. However, I think that will grow in 2024, as more audio fiction platforms that don’t distribute with public RSS feeds are starting to submit their shows to us. Hooray, variety!

Dramatizations are the Preferred Creator Format in Audio Fiction

I’m old enough to remember when the majority of fiction podcasts were made by authors who would narrate their own books into a microphone in a closet, with only a tiny fraction putting in the effort to make a “full-cast” audiodrama.  

My, my. How things change over [checks calendar] 20 years.

I’m convinced lots of recording still takes place in closets, but now creators are doing a lot more, including turning manuscripts into screen plays, engaging actors, designing the soundscape… it’s a lot. 

  • 254 Dramatized shows added to The End in 2023
  • 69 were Narrated
  • 5 added shows had a different presentation style, like improvisation, or a hybrid of the two 

And one quick note: Many of the narrated shows in our directory use multiple voice actors and have a rich soundscape. So if you’re thinking all narrated shows are dry-read audiobooks—think again.

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The Best Audio Fiction Shows that Completed in 2023

Out of the hundreds—if not thousands—of audiodramas, audiobooks, and fiction podcasts that completed in 2023, I recommend these to you. Each of these previously appeared in one (or more) of the issues of the newsletter, which I assume you are already subscribed to. But if not, fix that. Each week I send out a list of recently completed series, recent season finales, as well as show returning in a few days or weeks for a new season. 

Click the title of any show to get more information, including links to listen via a couple dozen different listening apps beyond the usual suspects. #GoPodcasting