So you’ve decided to start a podcast and are now performing research on the best hosting platform.
Questions you are likely asking yourself are:
- What makes for a good podcast host?
- How do you choose the best podcast host for your needs and budget?
- What features will I actually need?
With so many options available, it’s not always clear what makes one host different from another, and why you would pay for service as opposed to just choosing a free option like Anchor.
This comparison guide will provide you with all the information you need to find the podcast hosting service that best meets your needs, budget, and long-term goals.
What Should You Be Looking for in a Podcast Hosting Platform?
Podcasters of every level need and should expect that their podcast host will …
- Make it easy to start and grow your show
- Provide different plans that meet the needs of every level of podcaster
- Provide clear analytics to learn more about your listeners
- Provide monetization options to make money from your show
- Support the SEO visibility of your podcast through an optimized podcast website and episode pages
- Make the sharing and embedding of your episodes easy
🏆 The Best Podcast Hosting Services in 2023
RSS.com has quickly become one of the most popular podcast hosting platforms due its competitive pricing, features and customer support.
With RSS.com, you’ll get everything you need to start, track, grow and monetize a podcast.
RSS.com is easy to use – new shows can be up and running in 5 minutes.
Ideal for: beginner to established podcasters.
Easily Manage Your Podcast
RSS.com allows podcasters to easily manage their shows with its simple, intuitive interface that can be accessed on desktop, smartphones and tablets.
RSS.com gives all of it’s users a free podcasting website that’s automatically updated with your latest episodes.
You can customize your podcast’s website with cover, episode and chapter art as well a show description and links to an external website and or donation platform.
Understanding your audience is key to improving and growing your podcast. With RSS.com’s Podcast Analytics, you’ll get access to:
- Total number of subscribers for the month
- Number of all-time downloads (including how many downloads there were today, yesterday, this month and the previous month)
- Your top five episodes
- Where people are listening from geographically
- Device trends over time
- The app used to listen
- Heatmap showing the most popular listen days and times for your show
Improve engagement with each episode and grow your audience with statistics and insights using RSS.com’s Podcast Analytics.
Embeddable Podcast Player
As Anchor is a free option, it’s very easy to understand why so many new podcasters consider them when starting their shows.
The truth is that Anchor is a great option for those just testing the waters and who are not fully invested in their podcast.
With that said, if you are creating your podcast for your brand or business, or plan on turning your podcast into a business at some point, we highly suggest performing more research on the pitfalls and limitations of using a free service like Anchor.
With a paid hosting service, you are in full control of ads, your content, and your podcast on major directories like Apple Music, Google Podcasts, and Spotify (while Anchor submits your show to Apple Podcasts, it’s under Anchor’s own account.)
Ideal for: a brand new podcaster still testing their waters.
Anchor.fm Review - Should You Host with Anchor?
Creating an account and uploading an episode is easy on Anchor. We appreciated the ability to share new episodes to Facebook or Twitter, copy the episode link, or convert the episode into a blog post. Their app is intuitive and has useful features.
However, hosting your podcast on Anchor isn’t without its downsides.
The Downsides to Anchor Explained
If you get sponsored, expect to pay a lot more in fees with Anchor. For example, where Podcorn charges 10%, Anchor Sponsorship charges 30%. This means if you earn $10 with Anchor, they will take $3, and a $0.25 processing fee as well as a $0.25 cashout fee leaving you with just $6.50. If you host with RSS and use Podcorn to sponsor your show, your fee will be 10% – so if you earn $10, you keep $9.
While it is true they state you own the rights to your content, they also explicitly state in their terms and conditions that by using their platform you grant them the right to edit and modify your content and use it to promote and advertise their company and Spotify.
They also state that they have the right to remove your content without warning at their own discretion, and that they “have no responsibility or liability for the deletion or failure to store any User Content maintained or uploaded by the Services.”
As many podcasters have so aptly put it – If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.
Because they are a free service, customer support is not as robust as you’d receive with another podcast host, and technical issues can go unresolved for long periods of time.
Buzzsprout’s plans range from $12/month for up to 3 hours of audio uploaded per month to $24 per month for up to 12 hours uploaded per month. Optional add-on features for paid accounts include MagicMastering – audio filtering, and transcription at $0.25/minute.
Signing up for an account and uploading an episode for free was simple and intuitive. With that said, we found their monthly subscription rates are way too high for what you get for the money.
Ideal for: an independent podcaster, serious about podcasting.
Buzzsprout's Audience Support Programs
Buzzsprout provides monetization options that allow your listeners to support your show through accounts you’ve set up on Patreon, Podfan, Buy Me A Coffee, Paypal, and Cash App integrations.
In theory it sounds great, however to find the “Support Podcast” button, visitors listening to your episodes need to click a tiny icon hidden in the bottom right of your player to expand and display this feature (see above screenshot).
What draws some podcasters to Blubrry Podcasting is PowerPress – their plugin for WordPress. Others are drawn to the fact that they have been offering podcasting services for more than 15 years.
The Downsides to Blubrry Explained:
As choosing a podcast host is a big decision, many new podcasters appreciate a free trial to get a feel for the service and features of a platform. On their website, Blubrry doesn’t offer a free trial – however, after scouring the web, we are able to find a free trial link.
After setting up our account, it took us some time to figure how to upload an episode – the user interface wasn’t what we’d call intuitive.
Overall, Blubrry’s dashboard felt a little overwhelming and could be disconcerting to a new podcaster who is also learning how to start and grow a podcast.
Castos offers both monthly and annual plans which begin at $19/month and $190/year respectively. Similar to Blubrry, they have a WordPress plugin which allows you to manage your podcast, from inside your WordPress dashboard.
Where they stand out is they are one of the few podcast hosts to offer plans that include video hosting. However, their big features also come with larger price tags.
Castos Podcast Hosting Review
For the lowest paid plan ($19/month) you get 100 private subscribers. At the $490/year pricing tier your private subscribers can be increased to 250, your show can be video published to YouTube and you get Headliner Audiograms for your episodes.
The $990/year pricing tier gets 500 private subscribers, all of the above mentioned features, advanced analytics and video file hosting.
For podcasters with multiple shows, they may be tempted to purchase one of these plans. But in our opinion, it’s a very large fee if you only have one show.
On the other hand, if you want to have a private show that you sell access to, such as in a course or coaching membership, paying for private hosting may be worth it to you as well.
There is a free 14-day trial on the Castos website with no credit card required.
When you sign up, you get the option to either manage your show with their dashboard, or use a WordPress plugin to sync episodes from your WordPress website to Castos.
The Castos dashboard was reminiscent of the BuzzSprout dashboard, and creating an account and uploading episodes was pretty easy. You can also integrate your podcast with Spotify and Amazon Music directly from your Castos account.
Again though – we couldn’t help feeling that the price was just too high for the features offered.
Libsyn’s claim to fame is that they host more than 75,000 podcasts worldwide, and packages start at just $5/month.
The question is – what features do you get for that $5/month? Let’s explore.
Libsyn Podcast Hosting Review
If you have an episode that is an hour or longer, you will hit storage quotas fast. And, if you have multiple episodes you want to load in a single month, you’ll need a more expensive plan as well.
The most expensive plan that is publicly available is $40 per month and it features 800 MB of monthly storage. While these numbers reset each month for how much you can load, we’re betting you will find it’s far too easy to hit their maximums once you start getting serious about podcasting.
Analytics begin at the plans that are $15/month and up. Other features such as Double Opt-In Advertising and MyLibsyn Premium Paywall aren’t available until you reach the $20/month plan. The Paywall feature allows you to charge premium subscription fees for your podcast content.
In terms of loading and deleting episodes, as well as creating your account, Libsyn is easy enough to use. Again though, we can’t help but gasp at their storage limitations.
PodBean offers both free and paid accounts to podcasters. They also offer a unique feature with their unlimited plus and business plans known as the Patron Program.
The Patron Program is a paywalled RSS feed that allows you to charge your listeners to receive access to bonus content that is not available publicly.
Paid accounts begin at $9/month (paid annually) or $14/month (paid monthly). As soon as you begin paying you get additional features including:
- Advanced Stats such as “where your audience comes from [and] how they play your episodes”
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth (“subject to Podbean’s Fair Usage Policy)
- Pro Themes for your public podcast web page
- Custom design options
- Opportunities to monetize with Ads Marketplace and Premium Sales
For even more features such as access to their Patron Program, and/or PodAds monetization opportunities as well as video hosting, you will need an Unlimited Plus plan (starting at $29/month) or a Business plan starting at $99/month.
Business plans also gain access to private podcasts, groups, live chat support, and the Podbean Pro App.
Sign up was easy, and accessing the dashboard was simple as well. One feature that was interesting was the automatic social share option. You can connect your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts to automatically share new episodes upon their release.
You can also record and publish an episode from within the app for the platform. However, again we highly recommend recording with a podcasting microphone into a program like GarageBand or Audacity, and then uploading it for better audio quality.
Simplecast touts itself at the best platform for podcasters who want to track their analytics. Unfortunately, you will need to choose the higher pricing tiers to gain access to them as their lowest priced plan only delivers “Basic analytics.”
Simplecast’s free trial is for 14 days, and that will give you carte blanche to explore it’s interface and features. That is until you want to actually publish an episode at which point, you’ll need to select a paid plan. Plans begin at $15/month if paying month-to-month or $13.50 if paying annually.
Simplecast Podcast Hosting Review
If your show goes viral and takes off, having the basic plan can be problematic!
The next tier jumps to $35 monthly ($31.50/month if paying annually), and it only permits 50,000 downloads per month. Finally, their growth plan is $85 monthly ($76.50/month if paying annually), and it allows for up to 120,000 downloads per month.
While the platform seems easy to use, we can’t help feeling like the pricing structure encourages podcasters to stay small lest they end up having to pay huge podcast hosting fees.
Call us crazy, but we don’t think podcasters should get penalized for their shows gaining popularity!
Spreaker is owned by Voxnest, who in October 2020, announced that they were going to be acquired by iHeartMedia (aka iHeartRadio).
Spreaker is one of the few hosts that allows podcasters to live broadcast their show, making them ideal for call-in style shows.
Spreaker Podcast Hosting Review
Their paid plans begin with their “On-Air Talent” plan at $7/month on the month-to-month plan, or $72 for a year. At the $7/month price, users gain access to the following features:
- Up to 100 hours of audio storage
- Unlimited episodes and listeners
- Episode scheduling
- Up to 45 minutes of live podcasting with a listener’s chatbox to engage with your audience
- Basic statistics
- Ad revenue sharing and dynamic ad insertion monetization opportunities
To gain access to advanced statistics you’ll need to move to their “broadcaster” plan, starting at $20/month. This tier also gives you access to paid subscription monetization opportunities, 500 hours of audio storage and up to 3 hours of live podcasting.
Finally, their “anchorman” plan starts at $50/month and gives you access to 1,500 hours of audio storage and up to 5 hours of live podcasting. This plan is also the only one that provides what Spreaker calls “Full Statistics.”
How to Choose a Podcast Host That Perfectly Meets Your Needs and Budget
We’ve covered a lot in this post, and we understand you have options when choosing a podcast host.
Here are a few steps to take to assist you in making your choice:
Step 1. Open a word processing document or get out a pen and paper.
Step 2. Write down what your short-term and long-term goals are for your show.
Step 3. Write down how often you plan to release episodes, and how long you intend for them to be.
Step 4. Decide if you plan on hosting just one show or multiple shows?
Step 5. Decide if you plan on video podcasting?
Step 6. Write down your budget.
Let your answers help guide who you ultimately choose as a podcast host. For example, if video hosting is a top priority, many options on this list will be instantly removed.
Also, you can always take advantage of free trials and offers to test the features and functionality of the podcast hosts on this list before making your final decision.
With a little searching, there are coupon codes and links for free trials for nearly every podcast host listed above.