No one can argue the power of podcasting in 2021 — it has gone from an obscure form of media recorded in suburban garages, to full studio setups that reach millions of people per podcast.
The beauty of podcasting is of course, you can still use a humble garage set up, and reach your desired audience. But it’s not as simple as talking into a microphone and uploading it to the internet.
If you’re an experienced podcaster, you might be here to see if you can tweak your podcast hosting solutions. If you’re new to podcasting though, you might just be realising that podcast hosting is another step to think about on your journey to podcasting glory.
There are a myriad of options for hosting your podcast, with each service provider vying for your attention (and wallet) with different features to suit different needs. That of course can create confusion whether you’re a podcasting pro or a relative newcomer, so in this article, we’re going to go through the 6 top podcasting platforms, with the ultimate goal of helping you find the perfect solution.
So as we said, you can’t just record something on your computer and wham, bam, you’re Joe Rogan. It’s also not as simple as just uploading your podcast audio/video to your website either, as your website host won’t want to handle that much data.
So what you do need, is a podcast hosting platform, which will store your podcast online, and help distribute/play it to your audience. Podcast host service providers are basically just online servers that offer a few extra services that aid the successful creation and growth of your podcast.
These extra features on offer are many and varied, but let’s break it down to the basics of what you might want in a podcast hosting platform. From there you’ll be better informed about what is best for your podcasting needs.
Here you want to think about how much content your podcast host will store for you, as well as how long they will store it.
There are many options on this list that will store as much content for an indefinite amount of time — however there will be some cheaper options that will only store so much content for you, or even delete it after a predetermined amount of time.
They may also limit how many hours of audio you upload per month.
Be sure to look at the storage options to make sure it suits your needs, and that you don’t get caught short by having your precious podcasts being deleted forever.
Bandwidth is how much data the podcast hosting provider will give you for listeners to stream or download your podcasts.
A podcast host might limit your bandwidth by data, e.g. listeners can only download 250GB in total each month. That might not sound like a lot, but generally, 250GB should be enough for 20,000 to 40,000 downloads per month.
However there will also be many options that have unlimited bandwidth, meaning you can have as many streams, and therefore listeners, as you desire. Just keep in mind you pay for what you get here.
Many podcast host services will either help create, or automatically create a website just for your podcast. In that website you can integrate your podcast player, show, previous episodes, or even sell merchandise etc.
This is super helpful for creating a portal for your audience, but be aware website integration can be anything from too limited to offering more features than you need.
Analytics are what you pay attention to when you want to go from just having fun with your podcasting, to potentially actually making money from it.
Podcast analytics can tell you how many listeners you have, how long they listen for, and what your audience/listenership trends look like.
Like anything, analytics will range in detail from basic for beginners, to in-depth and granular for the professionals.
It’s becoming more and more popular to upload podcasts (even just audio versions) to YouTube. This provides you with a new audience, and potentially (if your audience is big enough), a new source of income. Some of the podcast hosts below will automatically upload you episodes to YouTube, saving you time, all while expanding your audience.
Some people also want to be able to transcribe their podcasts, either for the hearing impaired, or perhaps to have a written version for use in the future. There are several outside services that can do that for you, but you’ll find that some of the hosting providers below can do that for you.
Hey, look, it’s the podcasting dream to make a nice living off talking about what you love right? So it makes sense that most podcasting hosts will have ways to help you either start to make money, or improve your earnings from your podcasts.
This can range from charging to listen to your podcasts, putting in ads, or allowing you to crowdfund from your audience to let them support you.
If you’re just starting out, we recommend to focus on the quality of your content, but the long term goal is usually to at least make a little bit of money!
That covers the basics of what you are looking for in your podcast hosting, so let’s take a look at what the best podcasting hosting platforms are in 2021.
Buzzsprout has a focus on being quick and easy to use for both podcaster and listener, and that’s really apparent in its clean and straightforward interface. Everything is super simple, allowing you to upload and move audio very quickly.
That simplicity doesn’t mean minimal features though — not only can you add chapter markers, you can also create a unique video highlight reel to share on social media. Buzzsprout also offers Magic Mastering™ which will help your recording sound like it was engineered by the pros. You do have to pay for that, but it does make a difference to how professional you sound, especially if you are just starting out.
There are only a few things we’re not too fond of — if you pick their otherwise generous Standard Plan, they will downgrade your audio to 96kbps, which will sound pretty tinny and hollow. Also, if you want to upload a mountain of audio a month, Buzzsprout might not be your best option as you max out at 12 hours of new audio each month — after that they charge per hour of uploaded content.
All in all though, if you are just starting out in podcasting, we fully recommend Buzzsprout. The pricing is brilliant, it has more than enough features to help you grow, and if you have zero budget, they still have something to help you get started with their free plan.
If you decide to sign up from this link to Buzzsport, you’ll get a $20 Amazon gift card if you stay with them for at least 2 months.
The first and last sentence to describe PodBean should be this: ‘Paid plans have unlimited uploads and bandwidth’. Considering their cheapest paid plan starts at just $9 a month, that’s a tremendous deal. Heck, even the free plan gives you 5 hours of content and 100GB of bandwidth a month — PodBean is definitely one of the most generous podcast hosters out there.
With PodBean you’ll get your own website, and they’ll push your content out to all of the major providers while helping you with your social media marketing efforts. Their analytics are surprisingly excellent for the price, and they have built in Patreon support for raising funds.
On the down side, some think the interface is a bit clumsy, but honestly at these prices, we’re not bothered by it.
All of this stuff offered at such a low price really makes an excellent case for being the best podcast hosting platform on the market, especially if you’re on a budget.
All plans have a 1 month free trial, so go have a look at PodBean for yourself.
Transistor aims to do two things very well, above its competition — private podcasts, and superior analytics.
Private podcasts are suitable for those who want to have members only listen to their content, or perhaps even charge per stream of each piece of content. Private podcastings is also widely used by companies who want to deliver secure content to their employees or shareholders.
Transistor’s analytics also excel, with a relatively detailed breakdown of listenership statistics, like average downloads per episode, total subscribers, and listener trends. All of those stats are aggregated from all of your platforms (e.g. Apple, Spotify, Overcast, etc.), which makes for quick top-down visualizations of your stats.
Those two areas of expertise might make one think it’s angled at professionals and large companies, but when you look at the pricing, it’s actually very accessible to beginner podcasters as well.
The only tricky thing to consider is Transistor’s streams-per-month model — if you host multiple shows, your total streams per month will quickly shrink as your various shows eat into your stream count. To be fair though, if you are getting 10,000 streams a month on their basic plan, you’ll probably be more than happy to upgrade Transistor hosting.
To sum up, Transistor is ideal for enterprise and bigger brands, but the pricing is also accessible to beginners — although if you are in the amateur camp, you probably won’t be fully using all Transistor has to offer.
As you’ve probably figured out, most of the podcast hosting platforms listed here try to find a niche to stand out in. In the case of Captivate, that niche is definitely audience growth.
Upon investigation, it’s pretty clear Captivate have really taken some care into thinking about and implementing features that truly help podcasters increase their audience and profile, rather than just slapping on some shiny things to grab attention.
In terms of standout features to help podcasters grow their audiences, Captivate allows you to insert calls to action right in the podcast so you can do things like send people to your site, or be added to your email list.
Analytics are simple but robust, and that’s important when you need to figure out what is working and what isn’t working in terms of growing your audience. Captivate also works with the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), which means all of their analytics are designed to be industry standard for podcasting — that means every stat is designed to be genuinely insightful.
Because growing a podcast often takes input from a lot of people, Captivate will also let you have unlimited team members on board — it’s little touches like that that really help.
There isn’t too much on the bad side either, only that there is no free plan, and their streams per month model might not suit everyone.
If audience growth is your goal, definitely try Captivate’s free 7 day trial and see if their tools work for your audio ambitions.
The very first thing that strikes us about Blubrry is their unlimited bandwidth — not just on their higher tier plans, but all plans. If you’re lucky enough to have a podcast or podcasts with a lot of listenership, that unlimited bandwidth will certainly be a big selling point when you are looking for hosting platforms.
There is a price you pay for that unlimited bandwidth however, and that is Blubrry’s rather paltry storage options. On their lowest plan you’ll only get 100MB storage per month, which in most cases would equate to around just four hours of audio. There is a Professional plan with unlimited storage, but they don’t disclose the price for that (which is code for “expensive”).
The little storage they do offer however is not a strict limit though, as they will not charge you if you go up to 25% over your month storage limit.
If you are a WordPress user, you’ll enjoy the fact that Blubrry will give you a free WordPress website, and using their Powerpress plugin, you’ll be able to upload your podcasts directly from your website. This gives users one less interface to worry about, which is always a time saver.
Data-peepers will also be happy with Blubrry’s excellent IAB certified analytics, however a lot of the extra analytics are paid options.
Ultimately, if you are a WordPress user who doesn’t want to worry about bandwidth, Blubrry is definitely worth a look. If you want to upload a lot of content every month however, you might want to look elsewhere.
If you are curious, you can try out Blubrry’s one month free trial.
There are plenty of podcasting hosting solutions out there, but we’ve done our best to distill them into the top six — that should be enough to suit most needs, without overwhelming you with choice.
The best bit is that every single one of the podcast hosting providers in this list has a free trial, and some even have completely free permanent options. So really, there is nothing holding you back from giving podcasting a go. Just remember, even the podcasting greats took time to break the top ten, so set your goals, and work with your podcasting host services to analyse your data to work towards those goals.
If you think we’ve missed anything in our reviews, please let us know in the comments, help the community with your knowledge!