Who's the best podcast host - how to choose
August 5, 2019 · By James Cridland · 5.2 minutes to read
One of the most-asked questions on podcasting forums from brand new podcasters is to know what podcast host they should use. We’d like to help, so here are some of the questions we’re seeing asked.
I want a podcast host that gets me into Apple / Google / Spotify and as many other platforms as possible. Who should I choose?
Every podcast host will get you into Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and almost every other podcast platform.
All you need is an RSS podcast feed, which any podcast host will give you. Submit that podcast feed to podcast directories - here’s a useful link to all of them.
Every podcast host does this?
Yes. Every podcast host does this.
Cheers. So - statistics on my podcast downloads. Which host has the best statistics?
Great question. You want a podcast host that ideally has IAB Certified statistics, and if not, IAB Compliant statistics.
It turns out that you can count podcast downloads in many different ways - here’s a bit more information on podcast statistics. The IAB - the Internet Advertising Bureau - came up with some definitions, which the better podcast hosts are using. The theory is that anyone using these rules are working their figures out in the same way, which is good for advertisers, and good for you if ever you switch podcast host in the future.
“IAB Certified” means that someone from the IAB has looked at the code and the tech setup - here’s a full list of those. “IAB Compliant” means that the podcast host thinks they’re following the rules, but haven’t got the IAB to double-check, so you’ll just have to trust they’ve got it right.
My podcast host isn’t IAB certified or IAB compliant. Am I doomed?
Not necessarily. Use a service like Blubrry (IAB certified), Chartable’s Trackable service or Podtrac (both going for IAB certification), and you’ll get some decent data. But easier to choose a podcast host that’s IAB certified.
Anything else I should consider about podcast analytics?
You might want to see if you can download or export your figures.
Are there any podcast hosts that I should avoid?
Yes, absolutely there are.
Apple announced changes to their podcast categories in June 2019, and made the change in August 2019. If your podcast host doesn’t support these new categories by now, they don’t care about podcasting, they don’t care about you, and you should avoid them. (You can test this by looking for their new “True Crime” category in your podcast host’s dashboard. If it isn’t there, run, run away!)
In June 2017, Apple also announced a set of new tags including episode numbers. If your podcast host doesn’t support these tags, which are now over two years old, they don’t care about podcasting and they don’t want you to succeed. Run away. Don’t look back!
Oooh. Name some names then!
Oh, okay… SoundCloud. They don’t support the June 2017 tags, the August 2019 categories, and their download statistics are nowhere near IAB compliant either.
But they’re free!
Yes, they are. Funny that.
Anchor’s free, too, how about them?
Anchor’s a fine podcast host that wants to make things really easy for you. But - be careful about letting them submit your podcast to places like Apple Podcasts and Spotify, because they’ll do it under their account, not yours. They also don’t put your email address in the RSS feed, which means you can’t claim your podcast in other services.
If you want to try podcasting, they’re a great choice. Just be aware what you’re getting yourself into.
Is download speed important for a podcast host?
Some podcast hosts use download speed as a marketing thing - but the reality is that a) most podcasts are downloaded to your phone while you sleep, so the speed of download doesn’t matter; and b) if your audience wants to stream your podcast they’ll need a connection of 0.2MB, that’s all, which most mobile networks manage just fine. Download speed doesn’t matter, really. (Reliability does.)
Anything else to help me compare podcast hosts?
- Some podcast hosts are much easier to use than others. Some podcast hosts are very 2005 and techie-looking; some are super-friendly.
- If you’re the type of person who needs IT support a lot, make sure your podcast host has decent support. Try asking them a question and seeing what sort of response you get.
- If you’re technical, you may want things like APIs and stuff.
- If you’re podcasting as part of a team, you may want multiple-user login so you’re not sharing usernames/passwords, and the guy you fired last week won’t delete all your podcasts because he hates you now.
- Smaller podcast hosts can offer great service and be flexible, but bigger podcast hosts can offer benefits of scale. Occasionally, some big podcast hosts can initially get you into places that are hard to get into.
- If you’re not in the US, you may wish to support podcast hosts in your own country, get invoiced in your local currency, and not have to call their support lines at 11 o’clock at night.
- Some podcast hosts can help you monetise your podcast and connect you with advertisers. But they’ll also help transfer you from another podcast host anyway, so until you’re doing at least 5,000 downloads a week, don’t worry about it.
- Most podcast hosts will give you a short free trial so you can see if you’re comfortable with them. If they don’t, ask them nicely. If they won’t, ask yourself why.
- You might want a decent web player or website for your podcast. Some podcast hosts offer that - some don’t. You can use these embedded players if not.
- If you’re a bit more technical, you could consider Wordpress plugins like Powerpress, which can offer a good podcast service from your own web host. Or, even, self-hosting. There are upsides and downsides with these - they’re great for many people, and not great for others. Our recommendation would be that if you’re reading this article, you should look for a dedicated podcast host.
- What happens if you decide the podcast host you’ve chosen is rubbish? You should check if you can easily migrate to another host directly from their dashboard - without having to go through their support team.
But seriously, who’s the best podcast host?
There are loads of great podcast hosts out there, and no reason for us to highlight just one of them. Anyone that does is probably working for that podcast host or has an affiliate deal with them - which is fine, but now you know what questions to ask them.
Just don’t use SoundCloud. Mmm’kay?
Thanks very much. What else should I do?
Ah, good question. You should get Podnews every day, which is an excellent daily briefing about podcast and on-demand. And, if you want, also add us on your smart speaker’s news briefing service, or podcast app. And if you really like what we’re doing, support us.
—James is the Editor of Podnews, and was first involved in podcasting in January 2005.
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