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

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

· Updated February 5, 2021 · By James Cridland · 2.5 minutes to read

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

I go into a lot of detail in this article about how Podnews hosts its own podcast. But if you’re just here for the costs and none of the tech stuff…

Here are details based on a typical day in February 2021.

RSS feed

Our RSS feed is requested just under 15,000 times a day.

It’s quite large, though not as large as it once used to be; and uses a total of 2.74GB of data per day.

Roughly, we’re paying $0.24 per day to serve this. Assuming a 30 day month, that’s $7.20 for the RSS feed.

Audio files

I work hard to make small audio files (mainly we use 64kbps AAC-LC files).

In a typical day, Podnews sees 2,686 requests of audio; and a total of just over 3GB of data transfer. That’s about $0.26 per day; or $7.80 per month for the audio.

The observant will notice that serving the RSS feed costs about as much as serving the actual audio.

Total cost

So, for the podcast alone on AWS, just looking at the RSS feed and the audio files, that’s a total of $15 per month.

Bargin!

Yes, but not really.

First, our podcast is three minutes long, and is a small 64kbps file. 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.

For your hourly, daily podcast, do our figures of 2,686 downloads per day, and that’s 157GB of data transfer, which is $13.34 per day. Or $400.20 per month. 4.7TB isn’t cheap.

And then… because Amazon AWS is not a podcast host, you also need to build your RSS feed manually; you need to work out your own podcast stats (here’s how we do ours); 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.

You could use this to host the audio. For us, we’re only doing 90GB a month, so that looks just fine; though for the 60-minute daily podcast, you’d want 4.7TB. There’s a Lightsail instance for $40/month which gives you 5TB of data.

But, you’d also need to worry about backups and other things yourself, since you’re running a full server. You couldn’t put it through a Cloudfront CDN either; and the initial set of downloads when you release a new show is quite heavy on a little server. We see hundreds of downloads within the first few minutes of every new podcast being available.

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.

So, again, I’d suggest that even if you could keep the costs down, the additional hassle in keeping the servers going probably isn’t worth it. There’s a reason why podcast hosts exist, after all.

James CridlandJames Cridland is the Editor of Podnews, a keynote speaker and consultant. He wrote his first podcast RSS feed in January 2005; and also launched the first live radio streaming app for mobile phones in the same year. He's worked in the audio industry since 1989.

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