7 Best Podcast Hosting Sites: Most Popular & Top Free Options
Do you love to talk? Have you dreamed of starting a podcast? If so, you’re not alone. Podcasting is a medium that didn’t even exist until a few years ago, but now dominates the spoken word industry with an iron microphone. And you can be a part of it. All you need to get started is a great idea, a good mic, and reliable podcast hosting.
So where should you host your podcast? What are the most popular and free options? Let’s dive right in.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that this article includes some affiliate links. So if you click through and end up making a purchase, I’ll get a small commission at no cost to you. That helps to support me and keep this website running.
Why Do I Need a Podcast Hosting Platform?
Now that you’ve decided to start a podcast, you’ll need to pick from an array of podcast hosting providers. You might be thinking “No way, I’ll just upload my episodes directly to Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Play.” The problem is that those are podcast directories. While your podcast can be available there for listeners, it can’t be stored on their servers. And it’s not practical to host it on your own site either. You’ll need an outside service with space for audio files and heaps of bandwidth. That’s where the podcast hosting sites come in.
Imagine you’re a baker. You mix ingredients to create a tasty audio program, then bake it in the hosting company oven. In practically no time, your podcast will emerge as a warm, freshly baked RSS feed. Its delicious aroma of audio and metadata wafts through the air to the podcast directories. From there, your listeners can stream or download a bite. Higher end podcast hosting platforms also provide analytics, enabling you to see if audiences found it to be tasty or not.
Got the analogy? Okay, let’s move on.
What is the Best Podcast Hosting Site?
There are a lot of different companies to choose from. The seven below are the most popular, simple to use, and have a lot of features.
Here are my choices for the best podcast hosting services:
Buzzsprout is my #1 choice for hosting.
If you’re planting your first seeds in the podcast garden, Buzzsprout makes it easy to help them grow. This platform is a really great choice for beginners. Your audio files can get automatically optimized (admittedly, for a fee). And it’s easy to publish new episodes on the big podcast directories. There’s also a free plan, which I’ll go into more below.
Buzzsprout is all about ease of use. For each episode, all you have to do is upload your audio file, add a title and description, then schedule for publication. That’s it! You can use their easy-to-understand dashboard to gauge each episode’s performance, which can help you understand what’s working and what’s not.
You don’t need to be an expert to use their other tools either. Add chapter markers to make it easy for your listeners to find what they’re looking for. Use the transcription service ($0.25 cents per minute) to show up in more Google searches while also helping the hearing impaired. And I personally like how you can embed a podcast player (which looks very slick BTW) on your own WordPress website.
Price and Storage
As I mentioned before, Buzzsprout has a free plan. So if you’re looking to try things out, give it a shot. Just keep in mind that there’s a lot more value if you’re willing to pay. Here’s the price breakdown:
- Free plan: upload 2 hours each month, episodes will be hosted for only 90 days
- $12/month plan: upload 3 hours/month ($4/hour for additional content), unlimited storage
- $18/month plan: upload 6 hours/month ($3/hour for additional content), unlimited storage
- $24/month plan: upload 12 hours/month ($2/hour for additional content), unlimited storage
Personally, I recommend newbies start with the free plan. Work out the kinks, play with the options, and nail down what works best for your podcast. Then switch over to one of the paid plans. If you’re looking for something clean and simple, Buzzsprout the way to go. That’s why I rank it as my first choice.
Ten-year veteran PodBean boasts that nearly 500,000 podcasters have used its service. It’s not hard to see why, as their podcast hosting is reliable and packed with useful features, especially their monetization tools. It’s my #2 recommended choice.
PodBean offers multiple options to earn some cash from your podcast. Use their service to release “premium” episodes, try a paid subscription model, or utilize their advertising marketplace to dynamically insert ads. If that’s not enough, check out their Patreon-esque “Patron Program,” where your listeners can choose to support you.
Unlike some podcast hosting platforms, PodBean hosts video content in addition to audio. And if you sync PodBean with your YouTube account, new video podcasts can be automatically uploaded to your YouTube channel. That’s pretty cool. PodBean also has useful analytics, an embeddable media player, and their own mobile app.
Price and Storage
How much does PodBean cost? The prices listed below are monthly, but you have to sign up for a year of service to get them. Each is a little more expensive per month if you don’t want to commit to a full year.
- Basic plan: Free, 5 hours storage space, no monetization options
- Unlimited Audio plan: $9/month, unlimited storage, some monetization options
- Unlimited Plus plan: $29/month, unlimited storage, all monetization options
- Business plan: $99/month, unlimited storage, all monetization options, multiple podcast channels
I think Unlimited Audio is my recommendation here. It’s not crazy expensive and you can take advantage of some of PodBean’s monetization options, which is why it’s my recommended #2 option.
Have you heard of Facebook? Or Nike? How about Showtime? Well, Simplecast powers all of their podcasts plus more from other well-known brands. What’s their secret? Powerful features that will do the job for any podcast, even if yours isn’t quite at that Nike level just yet.
Simplecast’s standout feature has to be Audience, their fancy analytics tool. It goes deeper than rival podcast providers, letting you see where your listeners are from, what times they’re most active and even popular device types. A data geek like me could get lost in their analytics for hours.
Recast is another nifty feature. It lets your listeners (and you) share custom episode clips on social media — and you can see insights for it too. So you’ll know what parts of your podcast your fans really enjoy. Simplecast also includes one-click publishing, collaboration with multiple podcast managers, and distribution to all the key platforms.
Price and Storage
Sadly, there’s no totally free pricing tier. But all of Simplecast’s plans include a 14-day free trial, so that’s something. And you don’t need to enter your credit card information, which is always nice. Here’s the pricing, based on a year commitment (if you don’t sign up for a year, the prices will be a bit higher):
- Basic plan: $15/month, unlimited storage and uploads, basic analytics, 20k downloads/month
- Essential plan: $35/month, unlimited storage and uploads, deeper analytics, 50k downloads/month
- Growth plan: $85/month, unlimited storage and uploads, the most in-depth analytics, 120k downloads/month
The Basic plan will fill the needs of those just getting started in the podcast world, while Essential and Growth will work best for those who are already established.
Let’s say you have a handful of pod-tastic ideas and you’re not ready to commit to just one. If only there was a hosting service that let you publish multiple shows without charging you a fortune. Does such a service exist? Yes, and its name is Transistor.
Transistor lets you host multiple (and unlimited) shows for one price. So you could test out different podcast formats, hosts, lengths, goofy theme songs, or whatever else. Uncover what type of podcast your audience responds to the most, then make more episodes of that. It’s a really convenient way to let your creativity run wild, but in a thoughtful, data-driven way. Thankfully, Transistor has advanced analytics to help you grasp what users think of your work.
Transistor has other cool features too, like multi-episode players. I really like this because it lets you feature, well, multiple episodes. So if someone finds your show on your website and likes what they hear, it’s easy for them to dive into more episodes. You can also run a “private” podcast, which is exactly what it sounds like. Certain episodes could be hidden from the public and saved for a select audience of your choosing, whether it’s premium content for your biggest fans or internal communication just meant for your staff.
Price and Storage
There’s a 14-day free trial for all of Transistor’s plans. Unfortunately you’ll still have to enter your credit card info to take advantage. Here’s how their pricing looks if you pay monthly:
- Starter plan: $19/month, 10k downloads/month, basic private podcasts
- Professional plan: $49/month, 50k downloads/month, enhanced private podcasts
- Business plan: $99/month, 150k downloads/month, enhanced private podcasts
The Starter plan seems like a good place to start. So I recommend getting going with that, nailing down the type of podcast(s) you want to focus on, then moving to the Professional plan once you’ve built up a decent audience.
Captivate is a new player in the podcast hosting game, having just launched in January 2019. With youth comes a desire to prove oneself, and Captivate is certainly doing that, rolling out useful new features to an already-solid podcast hosting service.
Right off the bat, Captivate impressed me with calls-to-action baked right into its embeddable player. So you can generate leads for your email list, send traffic to product pages, or do whatever you like. The player even has built-in donation support. So if you’re looking for a fully-featured podcast player that also looks pretty sharp, you can’t go wrong with Captivate.
They also give you unlimited team members, so you don’t have to be the only one pulling the strings (because that would be exhausting). Plus you can publish an unlimited number of podcasts, so you can experiment with different formats to find what works best for you. Finally, Captivate’s analytics are robust and IAB certified. So you know you can trust their data to help you make good decisions.
Price and Storage
Captivate only offers a 7-day free trial, so be ready to launch as soon as you sign up. Interestingly, while a lot of other podcast services offer fewer features with their cheaper plans, Captivate gives you every crayon in the box no matter what pricing tier you go with. The only difference is how many downloads you get each month. Here’s the pricing structure if you don’t commit to a full year:
- Podcaster plan: $19/month,12k downloads/month
- Audio Influencer plan: $49/month, 60k downloads/month
- Podcast Brand plan: $99/month, 150k downloads/month
Since you get all of Captivate’s features at all levels, why not start with the cheapest one and then go from there? So unless you already have a beefy audience, you should probably start with the Podcaster plan.
Do you have a WordPress site? Do you like when your audio gets automatically transcribed? What about unlimited downloads for your listeners? If any (or all) of these interest you, then perhaps you’ll be interested in Castos.
Castos’ big calling card is its WordPress plugin, the charmingly named Seriously Simple Podcasting. Once you connect it to your WordPress site, you can upload and publish podcasts straight from your website — you won’t have to go to the podcast platform at all. The plugin even spits out a slick, responsive landing page for each podcast. It’s pretty convenient.
Also convenient is the audio transcription service, which can save a lot of time — especially if you have a podcast that’s two hours long. Plus Castos gives you unlimited podcasts AND unlimited listener downloads across all of their pricing plans. So if your podcast catches fire and takes off, you won’t have to scramble to cover all the new downloads you get.
Price and Storage
Castos has a 14-day free trial that’s good for all of their plans. You don’t have to enter your credit card details to get it, which I definitely prefer. Most of Castos’ coolest features come at every pricing tier, so check out what differs for each one:
- Starter plan: $19/month, unlimited uploads and downloads
- Growth plan: $49/month, unlimited uploads and downloads, YouTube/Headliner integration
- Pro plan: $99/month, unlimited uploads and downloads, YouTube/Headliner integration, advanced analytics
Blubrry launched way, way back in 2005, making it one of the oldest podcast hosting companies around. Their platform connects with WordPress sites and is feature-packed, making it a good option whether you’ve been podcasting for years or are just getting started.
Like Castos, Blubrry integrates well with WordPress-based websites. It uses the PowerPress plugin, which is ranked #1 of all WordPress podcast plugins and has been downloaded 75,000 times. Once the plugin is connected, you can take care of all your podcast needs without leaving your website. Among its many features, the plugin allows for easy uploading/posting, MP3 tagging, SEO optimization, embeds and migration. You can also choose between simple and advanced modes, depending on your comfort level. It’s a nice way for newbies to keep from getting too overwhelmed.
Blubrry was the first podcast company to be IAB certified compliant. In other words, their podcast performance data is trustworthy. And they provide A LOT of data, including listener geography, device type, and traffic sources. Their analytics interface is clean and easy to understand. Plus you can export it as a PDF, which is handy if you want to share it. It is worth noting, however, that it costs an additional $5/month if you want to utilize their more advanced analytics.
Price and Storage
Blubrry’s pricing tiers are, for the most part, based on the amount of storage you get each month. There’s also a 1-month free trial for all plans other than Professional.
- Small plan: $12/month, unlimited bandwidth, 100MB storage/month
- Medium plan: $20/month, unlimited bandwidth, 250MB storage/month
- Large plan: $40/month, unlimited bandwidth, 500MB storage/month
- Extra Large plan: $80/month, unlimited bandwidth, 1,000MB storage/month
- Professional plan: contact Blubrry for price, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage/month
The takeaway here is that you should choose a plan on your storage needs. Thankfully Blubrry isn’t going to immediately charge you if you go over your plan’s monthly storage. Their “No-Fault Hosting” policy means you can exceed your cap by up to 25% without being charged extra.
What are the Top Free Podcast Hosting Services?
Buzzsprout was the first podcast hosting provider on my main list, so it was a no-brainer to have it here too. It’s easy to use and has a clean, straightforward interface. Their Free plan lets you upload 2 hours of audio each month, but each episode will only be hosted for 90 days. Then it’ll disappear. But you still get access to Buzzsprout’s advanced stats and can have multiple team members.
PodBean has been used by more than 500,000 podcasters, including many who never paid a cent. Their Basic plan is always free, so you won’t have to worry about it ending after a short trial period. While the free plan has some limitations like storage and bandwidth caps, there’s still a ton you can do with your podcast. Create a podcast website, utilize free themes, and check out some basic analytics.
Spreaker is a well-regarded podcast platform. It’s special focus is on live broadcasting with chat. They save the more robust features for their paid plans, but their free plan (called Free Speech) can still get you in the podcast game. With Free Speech, you get 5 hours of audio storage, multiple podcasts, basic stats, unlimited listeners, and an RSS feed for each podcast.
How Do I Get Started Podcasting?
The beauty about podcasts is that they’re flexible — they can be whatever you want them to be. You choose the format, the length, the talent, and the topic. So if you want to make a daily four-hour podcast where you discuss obscure Game of Thrones characters, you can do that. Of course, it doesn’t mean anyone will want to listen.
That’s why I recommend doing a little homework first. Think about what topics you’re knowledgeable about that might also — and this is key — be interesting to a listener. Is it a topic you’d be able to chat about for multiple episodes? Here’s hoping so, or else there could be a lot of dead air in your future.
Next determine the format, the schedule, and who you want to talk with. This could mean regular pod-buddies or guests who drop by for an episode or two. Or if you have the gift of gab, you could be the only speaker. Just plan out how you want your podcast to be before you actually record the program.
Once you’ve done those steps, I would recommend purchasing some basic podcast equipment. I wouldn’t lay down too much money at first, until you’ve built up a little bit of an audience. But I would at least start with a USB microphone (to plug into your laptop) and quality headphones. If you can afford it, I would throw in a USB mixer as well, to help manage the input and output levels.
That’s it. Those are my picks for the best podcast hosting providers. If you’re just starting out, I recommend Buzzsprout to ease you into hosting. But if that doesn’t fit your needs, there are plenty of other options to get you going. Good luck!