Finding the perfect podcasting hosting platform

Your hosting service can be much more than just a way to deliver audio files

Although an audience interacts with a podcast is via directories such as iTunes and Spotify, hosting platforms are where podcasts live. Before a podcast is listed on a directory, it needs reliable hosting, which is where directories pull its audio files from. This service can also collect revenue and even act as a dynamic advertising server

However, there is a vast array of hosting providers out there offering a range of features and benefits, and it can be confusing to work out which one to go for, especially for the non-technical. In this article we’ll go over some of the best choices for hosting your podcast, from free (but limited) to industrial-strength and pricey.

These are just the most popular amongst a wide array of podcasting host choices. There is quite a variation in prices, and for a casual podcast a free option might be sufficient. Be careful not to under- or overestimate the number of downloads, however, as that could play havoc with the budget if your chosen host has a limit. With traffic that is very variable, consider a host that doesn’t impose this limitation.

Another feature to think about when choosing a podcast host is analytics. Anyone who has run a website or YouTube channel before will realise how important analytics are and this is equally the case with a podcast. It’s useful to know details about how the audience is reacting to content, but it’s essential for advertising. 

Most of the services described below will provide some form of analytics, broken down to the different directories the podcast is delivered through. But increasingly podcasts need more holistic analytics, and only some hosts offer this level of detail, such as video views and presenter social media engagement.

As contextual targeting emerges for podcasting, it will become more and more important for hosts to provide access to data at the granular content level. So before you take the plunge with any of the services described above, take a good look at what level of analytics each has on offer. If there’s a free trial, sign up and explore the features.

Free and low-cost podcast hosting

Buzzsprout

A great starting point for a podcast is Buzzsprout, which has a free tier. This lets you upload two hours of audio a month, but each episode will only persist for 90 days. This is a great way to test the waters with a new idea. Above that are $12, $18, and $24 per month options, allowing increasing durations of podcast to be hosted, up to 12 hours per month for the top tier. 

There are wizards to help connect the podcast to all the main directories and plenty of less well-known ones. Above the free option, Buzzsprout supports subscription services, and offers additional premium features including Magic Mastering and Cohost AI. The former is an automatic audio improvement tool, providing capabilities like volume normalisation, while Cohost AI suggests titles, descriptions, blog content and social media posts.

Podbean

Podbean is another service that offers a free tier, which provides up to five hours of podcast storage a month and 100GB of bandwidth. Paid services then start at $14 per month and $39 per month, which offer unlimited uploads and bandwidth. The more expensive option supports video podcasts, and both provide support for Podbean’s ads marketplace with dynamic insertion, plus Apple Podcasts Subscriptions. The more expensive service enables a Patreon integration, too. 

There’s also a $99 per month option that mostly adds team administration features and unlimited additional podcast channels (whereas the other tiers charge a fee for each extra channel). Discounts can be obtained across all the tiers by opting for annual rather than monthly billing cycles.

SoundCloud

Another popular option for simple podcast hosting is SoundCloud, the music sharing platform. The free SoundCloud Next plan enables up to three hours of audio uploads (total – not monthly), or there’s the $8.25 per month Next Pro account with unlimited uploads. This also enables distribution to Spotify, Apple Music, and even TikTok. 

SoundCloud will also pull details from the profile you create on the platform (including image, description, and website or social media links), which it uses to build an RSS feed URL that can then be employed to submit the podcast to directories and apps.

Spotify for Podcasters

Anchor has been one of the most popular choices for new podcasters in recent years, with 44% of all podcasts hosted on the platform in July 2022, according to the Podcast Index. Spotify purchased the service in 2019, and in March 2023 absorbed it into Spotify for Podcasters.

Anchor’s podcast creation and hosting tools persist, and the platform still offers free hosting, although you can also supply your own host and still use the tools. These include fan interaction, analytics, video podcasting and monetisation. But this is a Spotify-focused service, unsurprisingly, and is therefore not so useful for a podcast aimed at the full range of directory choices.

WordPress Plugins

For podcasters that already run Web-based content businesses via WordPress, it’s worth considering using a WordPress plug-in to host your podcast; the audio file will be hosted on the webserver, so no need to pay for a separate service. A popular option is Seriously Simple Podcasting (WordPress), which facilitates creating the name, description, cover art, and category choice for the podcast. It will then generate an RSS feed, which can be used to submit the podcast to directories. 

This will be a manual process, so is more involved than with some hosting services, unless the plugin is used in tandem with Castos’ hosting service, which provides one-click submission to Spotify. But there’s support for video podcasting, and there are lots of tools and facilities for integrating a podcast into a website.

Amusingly named podcast hosting company Blubrry also offers a WordPress plugin called PowerPress to accompany its service. Although most hosting services enable the embedding of a podcast into a webpage and the addition of easy app and directory subscription buttons, PowerPress facilitates subscribing and hosting multiple podcasts from a single website. There are also tools for importing podcasts from other platforms via their RSS feed. Blubrry’s hosting starts at $12 for 125MB of new storage each month, up to $100 a month for unlimited storage and 1TB of bandwidth.

Premium podcast hosting

Free hosting can be tempting for new podcasters, but if you want to turn your show into a serious commercial enterprise, paying for hosting should be factored into your monthly costs. 

Libsyn

Libsyn has been a popular commercial choice for some time, and despite not offering a free tier, it’s quite inexpensive. Plans range from $5 for three hours (or 162MB) of uploads per month, up to $20 for 10 hours (or 540MB) per month, and all plans enable subscriptions and advertising. One of Libsyn’s more unique features is that the service also offers video podcast hosting. This is much more expensive, however, starting at $40 for 14 hours of video and ranging to $150 for 55 hours.

Captivate.fm

Global-owned Captivate.fm offers a seven-day trial, but after that you’ll need tp pony up, with options including £19 a month for 30,000 downloads, £45 per month for 150,000 downloads, and £95 per month for 300,000 downloads. All versions include unlimited podcasts and uploads plus automatic distribution to a wide range of directories. 

Transistor.fm

Transistor.fm similarly offers a 14-day trial, and then it’s $19, $49 or $99 per month, with 12 months for the price of ten if you pay annually. All offer unlimited podcasts, but with different limits on the number of downloads – from 20,000 to 100,000 to 250,000, respectively. Dynamic ads (pre-, mid-, and post-roll) are only available with the two upper tiers.

Simplecast

Simplecast provides Basic and Essential options, costing $15 and $35 per month, respectively, with a 10% discount for paying annually. Both have unlimited uploads but include 20,000 and 50,000 downloads per month, so this won’t be the best service for popular podcasts. There’s a 14-day trial available for either plan. 

Omny Studio 

For seriously high-end podcasts, Omny Studio combines creator tools with hosting and ad campaign management. Pricing starts at $29 per month, but the company doesn’t state this on its website, implying that there are plenty of options north of that. The service majors on team creation activities and integration with existing Content Management System workflows. It counts broadcast audio publishers amongst its customers.

Acast

Also at the top of the tree sits Acast. This offers a free tier that includes tools for remote recording, and the storage available is unlimited. There’s distribution to directories and apps, and easy tools to switch your podcast over from other services. Beyond that, the premium options are $14.99 and $29.99 per month, if you pay annually, or $25 and $40 respectively for monthly payment. 

The lower level adds automated distribution and tools to create promotional videos and post them on social platforms. The upper one adds team management features and a publishing API so tools can be created to work with the podcast. Where Acast really shines, however, is in its monetisation features. Even the free tier lets you sell Acast+ subscriptions and advertising. The paid tiers unlock access to sponsorships, and there are sophisticated content-aware systems being added too.


Latest