The Podfic-est Fandoms (on ao3)

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Title: The Podfic-est Fandoms (on ao3)
Creator: Bessyboo, justaphage, destinationtoast, and duskdragon39
Date(s): 2020
Medium: Tumblr post
Fandom:
Topic: Podfic
External Links: The Podfic-est Fandoms (on ao3) tumblr post, Archived version
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

This Tumblr discussion covered podfic on Ao3, and what made it popular in certain fandoms. The most popular fandoms for pofic were Leverage, Rivers of London and Men's RPF Hockey. Podfics for ships varied. The effect of juggernauts, influencers, and podfic events like ITPE were discussed.

So there was some discussion on the podfic discord about what makes a strong podfic fandom. Now I don’t think this answers that, but I realized while it was easy to see what fandoms/ships have the most podfic (usually the juggernaut ones) it is harder to say just looking which fandom have the highest rate of podfic.

To answer this I turned to @destinationtoast​‘s scripts. I attempted to pull fandoms and ships with more than 25 works tagged podfic on ao3. This limit was a bit a technical one (even like this it took ages to run) but also because when a fandom is small, a few podfics can be a massive skew. It definitely did not pull everything that meets that qualification since as soon as I shared it people found fandoms it missed and obviously some of these fandoms overlap, caveats, etc…

HOWEVER it showed quite clearly that most popular fandom overall =/= most podfic’d so, for fun, two graphs (click the linked title to see original on Sheets)
justaphage

Findings

You can see that it’s rare for a fandom to cross 2.5% podfic and also something wild is going on in the Rivers of London fandom. The others to break 2.5% are Leverage (a smallish fandom) and Men’s Hockey RPF which has nearly as man podfics as “The Avengers (Marvel) - All Media Types” despite having less than a tenth the number of works.

Ships on the other hand do seem to break 5% podfic with some frequency. We see ships from our three fandoms that came up as well as from Star Wars, WNTV, DC and a few more non-hockey RPFs

Anyways, I don’t have a big conclusion for this aside from just being a big fandom is not always what brings all the podficcers to the yard. If anyone wants to look at what I pulled (or see the graphs better) it is here. Data Retrieved February 21, 2020

A few prolific podifccers skew data (duskdragon39)

duskdragon39 contributed their findings about Leverage and Rivers of London fandom's high podfic stats:

[[duskdragon39]]
Leverage has a total of 6615 works on AO3 right now, with 251 of those being podfic, coming out to around 3.79%. Of those, nine podficcers account for around 151 podfics- around 60% of all Leverage podfics, assuming no overlap. Since there’s probably overlap between podficcers, the actual fraction is probably closer to 45 or 50%, and that’s just from me scrolling through the ao3 page and seeing who stands out.

Getting the number of unique podficcers in the Leverage fandom would probably take either a good deal more time than I care to put in atm or being competent with python scripts, which I am not. For the most part, though, it looks like it’s mostly a few podficcers that are responsible for the number of podfics in the Leverage fandom. A lot of them are also people that I know are both prolific and well known (such as Reena_Jenkins).

Part of this is also probably the Leverage ot3 (138/251 podfics) and ITPE/other podfic events, but it’s still interesting!

For Rivers of London, 49/85 total podfics were made by three separate people- well over half. In addition, a lot of authors have more than one podfic for this fandom listed, same as with Leverage. So it looks like it’s definitely a few dedicated podficcers!
[[duskdragon39]]
For Rivers of London, 49/85 total podfics were made by three separate people- well over half. In addition, a lot of authors have more than one podfic for this fandom listed, same as with Leverage. So it looks like it’s definitely a few dedicated podficcers!

Bessyboo's comments

Bessyboo weighed in in her capacity "as an #ITPE mod, and someone who’s been around and watched the trends for years"

There’s a few things going on here.
  • Podfic fandom for YEARS was pretty insular, and a community unto itself. It’s natural that in a community like that, people with similar taste would be attracted to it, people with wildly different tastes would feel like it was not a good fit for them and leave, and everyone’s taste would rub off on each other. It’s not a coincidence that podfic as a whole, for instance, when looking at something huge like Star Wars Sequels fandom, skews MUCH harder towards Finn/Poe and Finn/Poe/Rey than the much more popular Kylo-based ships in written fic. That’s the type of people the community has attracted, and collective social taste in a community absolutely plays a large role in what gets created, because many people consider the audience for a work before spending lots of time on it.
  • Do NOT underestimate the influence of…well, influencers. Because of the amount of podfic she produces, getting Reena Jenkins into your fandom will absolutely balloon that fandom’s podfic stats, and get that fandom in front of tons more eyes/ears, which causes a knock-on effect. Paraka made HUGE pushes to get more Adam/Kris American Idol podfic to exist back in the day, and that’s why that fandom & ship are still on these lists to this day. I’m pretty sure Red vs. Blue is on the fandom list because of blackglass’s sheer determination alone. I got deeply into Hockey RPF back in 2012, and spent at least 6 months very aggressively and pointedly dragging many podficcers (and podfic-adjacent blanket permission authors) down with me. That had a ripple effect that is felt through to today, since once there’s a certain amount of podfic in a fandom, it’s there for podficcers to find when they’re looking for new fandoms to listen to podfic in, and that fandom still has podfic activity happening now as a result. However, notice that (TW: rape mention) Patrick K*ne/Jonathan Toews remains in the top 25 most podficced ships overall, despite it having next to no new podfic activity since news of K*ne’s rape case broke in 2015. (/TW) One big push over a couple years can be enough to cement a podfic fandom’s popularity for a decade.
  • Okay, let’s talk #ITPE. So, as an unintended consequence of how we match #ITPE, I think podfic fandom has seen a boom in what I call “popular secondary fandoms.” When we’re looking at fandoms and letters, we try to judge what people’s MAIN fandom(s) are—the thing that they really want—and what are the fandoms that they’re not as currently passionate about but would never be sad to receive or make something in, or their “secondary fandoms.” We try our hardest to both match people on the main fandom(s) they want, and also have at least a 2-fandom match, and that’s where those secondary fandoms come in. Popular secondary fandoms tend to be either older popular main fandoms (Lord of the Rings, Due South, Inception, Merlin, etc.) or those fandoms that were never huge in terms of fanworks, but many people have consumed and enjoyed—great examples of these are Firefly, Check Please, and, my classic example of this: Leverage. Notice that ALL of those fandoms I listed have fairly high podficcing percentages. #ITPE has become a HUGE amount of the podfic output for the whole year, and these fandoms have become popular fallbacks for people looking to give quick treats, or backup gifts in case they don’t finish their ambitious one, or what have you.
  • The other thing about #ITPE matching is a little bit of Slytherin-ing that I normally wouldn’t publicly admit to, but it’s…relevant here, so. When I talk about how we hand-match in #ITPE, that isn’t just because we want to assess like, trope/squick matches. We, in fact, very deliberately match in a way that favors smaller fandoms, rarepairs and ships involving women and characters of color, etc. But the mods are also human, with our own biases and agendas, and sometimes you’re just fed up with the lack of DCU podfic and structure an entire #ITPE gifting loop around producing more Tim Drake podfic, and it’s accidentally FAR more successful than you ever intended and now five years later it’s one of the top 10 most podficced fandoms and the ship & character breakdown of what gets podficced is NOT at all representative of the larger fic fandom and is WILDLY skewed towards your personal character & ship tastes. Whoops? Sorry? (I’m not sorry.)
  • Slightly more seriously, looking at actual stats, there are 627 DCU podfics on AO3, and a staggering 80% were made for that #ITPE or after. Even if you eliminate the DCWTV shows that account for some of that and limit it to comics canons only (as much as you can with AO3 filters), that time period still accounts for 335/382 podfics, which is actually OVER 80% of comics-based podfic, closer to 90%. Some of this is the Reena Jenkins Effect™, but I think it’s pretty clear that, intentionally or not, something can catch on with the right spark and cause a massive shift in podfic fandom taste.
So get out there and push your fandoms, people! ;)