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The Hosting Platform with the Most: An Atypical Comparison Report

May 23, 2024 Deciphr AI
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IN A GIST

You've got the hard part of podcasting done. Your ideas are solid, your episodes are ready, but you're stuck on this one trivial thing: hosting platforms.

So, this is where we shake things up. We're not about to rehash those same ol' comparison articles you've probably seen more times than you care to admit. 

We're here to dig into the real issue that's keeping you up at night:

  • The number crunching madness: Analytics
  • The walk in the park or uphill battle: Ease of Use
  • Spreading the word far and wide: Distribution
  • The dent in your pocket: Affordability

MAIN ARTICLE

Choosing a podcast hosting platform is tough. You've got a truckload of options, each one sounding shinier than the last. And let's be real, the jargon doesn't help. We're about to cut through the noise and lay it out in plain English. 

We'll pit three popular platforms – Buzzsprout, Podbean, and Spotify for Podcasters – against each other, comparing them on the factors that truly matter to you.

Let's strip away the marketing fluff and get down to brass tacks.

Podcast Analytics

Analytics helps you understand your audience, what's working, and where you need to improve. So, let's check out how the top platforms do in this department.

Buzzsprout: It's your one-stop-shop for all things analytics. It lays out stats in a way that's easy to understand, with everything from download numbers to listener locations. It's an open book in a world full of encrypted diaries. In terms of credibility, Buzzsprout's statistical metrics have been officially certified by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab. This means Buzzsprout follows industry standards in terms of metrics and analytics. 

Podbean: Podbean certainly doesn't skimp on the data. Similar to Buzzsprout, Podbean is also certified by the IAB tech Lab further providing the credibility of the analytics it generates.

Spotify for Podcasters: While Spotify for Podcasters does offer basic stats like total plays and listener demographics, it's not as in-depth as Buzzsprout or Podbean. It's more of a skim-the-surface analytics tool. However, for many podcasters, this is more than enough. In terms of credibility, Spotify for Podcasters are also IAB-compliant. However, it is important to note that Spotify as a platform skews to a younger audience, so the data may not be representative of your entire audience.

Extra Tip: Looking at podcast stats isn't about playing a numbers game. It's about getting to know your audience, what makes them tick, and what keeps them coming back for more. So, what stats should you keep an eye on? Here are some of the biggies according to Neal Schaffer founder of the digital marketing consultancy PDCA Social:

  1. Total Downloads/Plays: This metric indicates the overall reach and popularity of your podcast. It helps you understand the size of your audience and the success of your content. It's like a high-five from your audience, a pat on the back telling you your podcast is hitting the right notes.

  1. Listener Demographics: Ever wondered who's on the other side of the screen? Demographics like age, location, and interests aren't just random tidbits. They can help you tailor your content and marketing strategies to better engage your target audience.

  1. Listener Retention: How long are folks sticking around? Are they bouncing off after a few minutes or hanging on to your every word? Tracking how long listeners stay engaged with your podcast and at what point they drop off can provide insights into the quality and relevance of your content. This can be measured through metrics like average listen duration and completion rates.

  1. Episode Performance: Not all episodes are created equal. Some might be blockbusters, others not so much. Analyzing the performance of individual episodes can help you identify which topics, guests, or formats resonate the most with your audience. Track episode downloads and engagement.

Extra, Extra Tip: If you need help in improving your podcast’s engagement, try Deciphr AI. This tool can help you market your podcast with less effort. In fact, it brings you as much as 10 content outputs from one single upload – think show notes, captions, pulled quotes, and more.

Distribution

Your podcast won't have much impact if it's not reaching the right audience. Distribution is key.

Buzzsprout: With just one click, your podcast will be available on all major platforms. Riverside noted how Buzzsprout makes it easy to share your content online on all major social media sites, including Facebook and YouTube. The Podcast Host, meanwhile, praised how Buzzsprout supports The Podcast Index and Podcast Namespace, which gives indie podcasters the ability to get more info (tags) into their RSS feeds.

Podbean: Distribution is a stronghold for Podbean. It offers 17 podcast directories to be listed to and can be distributed on Youtube. Plus, it provides a customizable podcast website if you want that extra visibility and authority. According to TrustRadius, Podbean is a great app that allows users to discover and listen to podcasts, and it has all the features that the Apple Podcast app has.

Spotify for Podcasters: Owned by Spotify, this platform distributes your podcast to all major platforms, but with an obvious tilt towards Spotify. The PodcastPage said users are required to manually enable RSS and submit their feed to each directory. The better part is Spotify still keeps  the directory all in one place, which can be helpful for podcasters learning about how to distribute.

Ease of Use

Let's be honest, no one has time for a complicated hosting site. We need it easy. 

Buzzsprout: Riverside.fm analyzed the top 11 best podcast hosting sites in 2023 and ranked Buzzsprout as the best options for beginners because of their ease of use. They noted that this platform offers a user-friendly interface and makes it easy to upload and distribute your podcast. Moreover, Buzzsprout’s services are strictly month-to-month with no contract to sign. This means you can move to a different plan, cancel, or if you choose to, move to a different host at any time.

Podbean: Podbean requires a bit more of a learning curve, but once you're past that, you've got a powerful tool in your hands. Still, GetApp rates Podbean with 4.5 out of 5 for user friendliness, noting its features are comparable to the Apple Podcast app. One thing that Podbean boasts about is that they don’t charge extra for storage and bandwidth. This means you truly get unlimited storage and unmetered bandwidth.

Spotify for Podcasters: With its one-click distribution and built-in recording and editing tools, Spotify for Podcasters wins the ease-of-use award hands down. G2 compared reviews on over 60 podcast hosting platforms and scored Spotify for Podcasters (formerly Anchor) 9.8 out of 10 for ease of use. They noted that these platforms offer a simple interface and make it easy to upload and manage your podcast.

Affordability

In the podcasting world, cost matters. We want all the bells and whistles, but without burning a hole in our pockets.

Let's look at our top three platforms from this perspective.

Buzzsprout: Plans start at free with limited features, but for the full shebang, you'll need to shell out $24/month. It's not the cheapest, but the range of features and analytics make it a value-for-money choice. If you have the extra bucks, Buzzsprout also offers Magic Mastering and Cohost AI as add-ons.

Podbean: Cheaper than Buzzsprout, Podbean's unlimited audio plan comes at $9/month. But if you will require a video accompaniment for your podcast, prepare to pay  $29/month. There’s also a price plan for a group of 50 or more podcasters who might want to share the cost at $79/month.

Spotify for Podcasters: The big win here is Spotify for Podcasters's 100% free hosting. Yes, you heard that right. Free as a bird. For those on a tight budget, this is a massive plus. The best thing about this platform is it comes with growth tools that can help you build your community of listeners and improve your show’s engagement. It also has ad programs that can help you monetize your podcast better.

Wrapping Up

Equipped with key insights, you're now primed to select between Buzzsprout, Podbean, and Anchor - or perhaps uncover a less-known option that is a perfect fit for your unique needs.

As you approach this decision, bear in mind that podcasting isn't rocket science; it's about conveying your voice, ideas, and world to an eager audience. Thus, the optimal platform isn't necessarily the one boasting the most features, but rather the one that caters to your specific requirements.

To evaluate and make your final decision, consider this strategy:

  • Identify Your Needs: Assess the features you absolutely require, those you'd prefer, and ones you don't need. This could include factors like pricing, user-interface, customer support, or analytics tools.
  • Comparison Analysis: Evaluate each platform against your needs list. Prioritize platforms that meet your essential needs and include your preferred features.
  • Trial Runs: Utilize free trials or demo versions where available. An actual test drive will give you hands-on experience of the user interface and functionality.
  • Reviews and Feedback: Consider reviews from other podcasters. Direct experience feedback can provide invaluable insights and highlight potential pros and cons that may not be immediately apparent.
  • Reflect: Take some time to mull over your findings. Your ideal platform should feel like a natural extension of your podcasting journey, not a hurdle.

Go ahead, take the plunge. Your audience awaits.