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How much does it cost to host a podcast on Amazon AWS?

July 31, 2019 · By James Cridland · 2.9 minutes to read

Is hosting a podcast on Amazon AWS a good idea? Who better to ask than someone who does it… us.

Our podcast uses Cloudfront in front of an Amazon S3 bucket, which hosts the audio. We only use the United States, Canada and EU edge servers for Cloudfront, which keeps the price down.

Our RSS feed also uses Cloudfront, in front of an EC2 server. For the below, we’ve assumed that you’ve simply uploaded the RSS feed to Amazon S3 as well.

To ensure we got decent data, we looked at our own podcast stats for the week of 21-27 July 2019.

RSS feed

Our RSS feed was requested 56,137 times. Of those requests, 54,820 were Cloudfront hits. 169 were “misses”; the rest were incomplete requests.

42.54MB of data was from non-cached versions. 9.12GB of data was from cached versions within Cloudfront.

Total data transfer “out” was $0.085 per GB; or $0.085 * 9.16GB = $0.77 for the RSS file.

There were 56,137 HTTPS requests, which are charged at $0.0100 per 10,000 requests within the US (the EU is slightly more). That’s another $0.05.

So, in total: we paid $0.82 for the week’s hosting of the RSS feed.

Audio files

Our audio files were, in total, requested 10,214 times. (Note: this isn’t what “total downloads” would say in podcast statistics - this is the underlying number of requests, however small or large).

Total data transfer was 10,005,026,250 bytes = 10.005 GB. Total data transfer “out” costs $0.085 per GB; or $0.085 * 10.005GB = $0.85 for the audio.

There were 10,214 requests for the files, via HTTPS, which are charged at $0.0100 per 10,000 requests within the US. That’s another $0.01.

3.8GB of this data - 10,214 requests - were Cloudfront “miss”es; the audio came from Amazon S3.

Amazon S3 charges $0.0004 per 1,000 requests - a total of $0.004- and $0.0007 is charged per GB, a total of $0.0026.

So, in total we paid $0.86 for the week’s audio hosting.

Total cost

Podcast analytics for this podcast say that it got a total of 4,855 downloads during this week (all episodes).

We paid $1.68 for the hosting for the week; roughly speaking, that’s $7.20 for the month.

Bargin!

But.

Our podcast is not your podcast

Our podcast is three minutes long, and is an 80kbps file; averaging at just 2.2MB. It’s unusually short, and unusually small.

If you were to have a 60 minute long file at 128kbps, which is more usual, that would average at about 60MB per episode. In that case, the audio bandwidth prices would be 27 times larger.

So, if you were to release a daily podcast that was an hour long, your hosting bill for nearly 5,000 downloads in a week (which isn’t a whole lot) would be $23.77, or over $101 a month.

Because Amazon AWS is not a podcast host, you also need to build your RSS feed manually; you need to work out your podcast stats; you need to work out how to cope with uploads; and you need to host your podcast artwork somewhere.

So, if you’re the type of person who is asking “should I host my podcast on Amazon AWS?” then, I’d suggest, your answer is simple: no. No, you really shouldn’t.

However

Actually, there is a cheaper way. A much cheaper way. AWS Lightsail runs on Amazon infrastructure, and offers a weedy little virtual host, offering 2TB of data transfer for just $5 per month.

We’re currently getting through 42GB of data per month; the much larger example we quoted above gets through 1.15TB per month.

Lightsail doesn’t offer many controls, and not everything is available on a Lightsail instance. You’d also need to worry about backups and other things yourself, since you’re running a full server. It wouldn’t also be put through a Cloudfront CDN, either.

And, to reiterate, because AWS Lightsail is not a podcast host, you also need to build your RSS feed manually; you need to work out your podcast stats; you need to work out how to cope with uploads; and you need to host your podcast artwork somewhere.

However, if you’re determined to DIY, the costs can be very low indeed.

—James is the Editor of Podnews, and was first involved in podcasting in January 2005.

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