What is a podcast hosting platform and why do you need one?
A podcast hosting platform, site, or service stores and, in some cases, distributes audio content to listeners. Hosting platforms create an RSS feed for your podcast, which is a public URL that listening platforms use to gather show and episode details. All hosting sites provide RSS feeds, but not all distribute them to listening platforms. If your host or hosting plan doesn’t offer podcast distribution, you can do that manually. You’ll want to submit your podcast to major listening platforms such as Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Pandora.
What to consider when choosing a podcast hosting platform
If you hope to build a business around your podcast, choosing the right hosting platform is a must. So, how do you find the best fit? Start by weighing your options for free and paid services.
Free vs. paid hosting platforms
Free podcast hosting exists, but you will likely give up a few important things, like unlimited publishing and the ability to monetize your show. Frankly, unless you only intend to publish a few episodes and have no intention of trying to generate revenue, you’ll want to pay for hosting. With paid services, you typically get deep audience insights and data, sufficient audio storage, monetization via advertising, and distribution to major listening platforms.
7 factors in choosing a hosting service
Once you’ve decided on free vs. paid hosting, you’ll want to evaluate options with a consistent set of criteria. If you’re on a budget, prioritize the features you want and be willing to make tradeoffs.
- UX and customer service: Learning how to use a hosting site’s tools and dashboard takes time, which can delay bringing your podcast to the world. If speed and ease of use are important, look for a host with simple, intuitive user experience. To that end, you may want to prioritize hosts with live support.
- Storage and bandwidth: How much storage you need depends on the length of your show and how often you plan to publish. Storage limits are usually set for file size (measured in megabytes) or time; bandwidth limits are usually set in megabytes. You can pay for storage and bandwidth, so if you plan to publish often, expect to spend more.
- Data and analytics: To truly gauge your show’s success, you’ll need data. And if you plan to work with advertisers, they’ll expect a glimpse of your reach. Hosting platforms typically offer data and analytics as part of their service—even at free tiers—but may only offer advanced analytics at paid tiers.
- Distribution: Hosting sites like Captivate, Buzzsprout, and Castos distribute shows to major listening platforms such as Spotify, Apple, and Google Podcasts. If your host doesn’t do this, you’ll need to manually submit your podcast with your RSS feed link.
- Visibility: Some hosting sites automatically archive your episodes on customized pages, which can act as the primary homepage for your show if you don’t want to launch a website. If you go the automated landing page route, you’ll want to write detailed show notes — and post your transcripts — for SEO purposes.
- Sharing features: Sharing features make it easier to market your podcast. You’ll want a hosting service that generates links to episodes and embed codes, and shares content directly to social media.
- Monetization: Some hosting sites, like Anchor, let users promote their platform for a share of the revenue. These opportunities often come with earning caps, but they allow you to practice making ads. Others provide blog posts, newsletters, and white papers on how to attract potential sponsors.
The 10 Best podcast hosting websites
According to industry research and user feedback, the platforms below are the 10 leading options for podcast hosting, ordered alphabetically. Most have tiered plans available—making it easier to start at a lower investment level and upgrade when you’re ready. This might feel like a high-stakes decision, but fear not—if you aren’t happy with your hosting site, you can always migrate your podcast to a new provider.
Acast offers one free and two paid hosting plans.
With Acast’s free plan, you’ll get:
- Access to the Acast analytics dashboard, where you can view and export plays or streams from every podcast episode
- A basic podcast website
For $25/month, you’ll get everything in the free plan, plus:
- Patreon integration
- Advanced analytics
- A customizable podcast website
- Unlimited episodes and downloads
- Potential to monetize via advertising
For $40/month, you’ll get everything in the $25 plan, plus:
- Customizable access by team member
- Advanced support
- Webinars on industry trends and growth tips
- Publishing API
Now owned by Spotify, Anchor offers free and unlimited podcast hosting. For free, you can:
- Record, upload, and edit your podcast
- Create cover art using Anchor’s tools
- Enable multiple people to record with you at the same time
- Distribute your show to major listening apps
- Access show analytics such as aggregated audience demographics, where and how listeners are tuning in, and where listeners drop off
- Add a button to let listeners donate money to your show
- Monetize via advertising or subscription
- 800MB of storage, plus an additional 200MB for $10
Buzzsprout offers four different plans. All plans include these base features:
- Advanced stats like total downloads, what apps listeners are using for your podcast, and where they’re listening
- Website for your podcast
- Custom embed player
- Distribution to podcast directories
- Unlimited team member logins
With the free plan, you get:
- 2 hours of audio uploads each month
- Episodes hosted for 90 days
- Ads will appear on your podcast website; you have to upgrade to remove them
For $12/month, you get everything in the free plan, plus:
- 3 hours of uploads each month, and more for $4/hour
- Episodes hosted indefinitely
- Unlimited storage
- Import your podcast for free
- Add magic mastering, which optimizes your audio to industry best practices for spoken word or music-heavy productions, for an additional $6/month
For $18/month, you get everything in the previous tier, plus:
- 6 hours of uploads each month; more for $3/hour
- Add magic mastering for an additional $9/month
For $24 a month, you get everything in the previous tier, plus:
- 12 hours of uploads each month; more for $2 per hour
- Add magic mastering for an additional $12/month
Captivate has three hosting options, all of which you pay for. They all come with these base features:
- Unlimited storage and shows
- Analytics such as download totals, unique listeners, listener demographics, web traffic stats
- Distribution to Apple, Spotify, and more
- Embeddable website and social player
- Auto-generated podcast website
- “Growth Labs” tools and resources for monetization
Each tier includes unlimited uploads, storage, and distribution—what differentiates them is the number of downloads per month you’re allowed:
- $17/month — up to 12,000 downloads
- $44/month — up to 60,000 downloads
- $99/month — up to 150,000 downloads
Castos offers three paid monthly subscription levels.
For $19/month, you’ll get:
- Unlimited episode uploads
- WordPress plugin that allows you to sync your podcast RSS feed with your WordPress site. You can also upload audio and video to your podcast directly from your WordPress dashboard.
- Free one-click podcast migrations from previous hosting providers
- A personalized podcast landing page
- Episode transcriptions
- In-depth listener analytics
- Up 100 private audio streams
- Podcast editing services
For $49/month and $99/month, you’ll get everything in the $19 plan, plus:
- Video republishing to YouTube. With this service your audio will automatically be converted and published to YouTube once you set up the integration feature.
- Headliner audiogram integration, which allows you to create sound bites from episodes.
- Advanced analytics such as geographical breakdowns, unique listeners, and total subscribers
- Video file hosting
- Up to 250 private subscribers at the $49 level
- Up to 500 private subscribers at the $99 level
6. Hello Audio
Hello Audio’s offering focuses on private audio streams, which can be accessed with custom links. Higher paid tiers allow public podcasting.
For $17/month, you’ll get:
- 1 private feed
- Unlimited episodes
- Unlimited listeners
- An instant-release feed, in which all audio files are released immediately
- Date-based feeds, in which audio files are released by the calendar date you determine
- An embeddable player
- Listener management
- Automatic video to audio conversion
- Integration to add/remove listeners via Zapier
For $47/month, you’ll get everything in the $17/month plan, plus:
- 3 private feeds
- 1 public feed
- Dripped feeds, in which audio files are released a number of days after the previous episode was released.
- Advanced date-based feeds, which restrict episodes before listener's start date
- Expiring feeds
For $97/month, you’ll get all of the features from the less expensive tiers, plus:
- Unlimited private feeds
- Two public feeds
- Unlimited transcripts
- Automated actions based on listener engagement
- Advanced drip feeds, which allow you to remove episodes from the drip schedule
- Custom branding colors
- More advanced Zapier automations
- Premium support
The granddaddy of hosting services, Libsyn hosts many of the world’s most popular podcasts. None of its plans are free.
For $5/month, you get:
- 50MB of monthly storage
- Unlimited audience
- WordPress publisher hub
- Custom HTML5 media player
- Advance scheduling
For $15/month, you get everything in the $5 plan, plus:
- 250MB of storage
- Basic statistics
For $20/month, you get everything in the plans listed above, plus:
- 400MB of storage, plus an additional 200MB for $10
- Downloadable statistics
- Advanced statistics for with advertiser compliance
- Pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll ad insertion
For $40/month, you get all of the above, plus:
Megaphone is a professional hosting site used by media giants such as Conde Nast and iHeartMedia. They only work with podcasters averaging more than 20,000 downloads per episode, and pricing is available by request. Features include:
- Publishing calendar tool
- Intuitive publishing workflow
- Dynamic ad insertion
- Audience targeting
- Live support via chat
Business forecasting tools
Podcasts.com is an all-in-one hosting and management platform where you can market and distribute your show for free. Features include:
- Tools to start your own website
- Distribution to various listening platforms
- Shareable links and embed codes
Transistor is a podcast hosting platform that also includes distribution. They offer three paid tiers for hosting, all of which include:
- Hosting for unlimited podcasts
- Live customer support
- Access to advanced analytics about where your listeners live, what listening apps people use, and your most popular episodes
- A podcast website
For $19/month, you also get:
- 2 login credentials
- Up to 15,000 monthly downloads
For $49/month, everything above, plus:
- 5 login credentials
- Up to 75,000 monthly downloads
For $99/month, everything above, plus:
- 10 login credentials
- Up to 200,000 monthly downloads
- Ability to remove Transistor’s branding from the player
Transistor has separate pricing for private podcasting, which ranges from $49/month to $999/month.