If you want to make available your podcast content to listeners after recording, the podcast data and media files need to be stored somewhere and made accessible through the internet. Hosting media content can be a little bit of a technical process depending on the hosting platform you choose.
Platforms that offer media hosting services are called podcast hosting providers. The hosting companies also provide an RSS feed for a podcast so podcasters can submit the show to different podcast directories.
To put it simply, podcast hosting is a dedicated service that offers to store and make available media files related to a podcast.
There are numerous podcast hosting service providers today, and in this review, we are going to look at two of the most popular providers in the game – Podbean and Captivate.
Having been around for almost two decades, Podbean is a seasoned podcast hosting service provider, and this experience means it is worth its place among the leading podcast hosting platforms.
To help you learn more about Podbean, let us look at some of the platform’s features that make it stand out.
If you have used WordPress before, you understand just how important plugins are in the functionality of a website. In the case of Podbean, these plugins add some special functionality to your show.
To make things even more wonderful, most of these services are free.
The plugins lets users directly important files from their Dropbox, send emails to their subscribers, add episode tags in order to categorize their episodes, and more.
This feature allows you to create a new show from start to finish, from your smartphone. In addition to being a place to discover new podcasts, the Podbean Podcast App also comes with a well-designed audio recorder.
With this feature, you can create a podcast on the go by just pressing the mic icon at the top right corner of the mobile application.
You can record or start a live stream show. After recording your show, you can add some sound effects, background music as well as enjoy an array of post-production features.
One of the most important features of Podbean is its podcast website. So if you don’t have a website for your podcast, you can simply customize one real quick.
You choose from a slew of theme templates while having complete control over the HTML/CSS and the design of your show’s website.
It is very similar to WordPress content management system, even some terminologies are the same. For instance, add “Pages” for contact, bio, as well as any other information associated with your podcast; ad “Sidebar Widgets” to activate other functionalities to your website.
Lastly, you can customize the visual style of your website using the built-in CSS editor.
Live Stream & Embeddable Players
These features let you launch a live podcast by simply clicking the “Live Stream” icon on the left corner near your profile. And once you have filled out the short form with information about your podcast, just click “Start now” to start a live show or schedule a live show for later.
It is also possible to make your podcast’s visibility “unlisted” just like YouTube, to make your show accessible to only people with a link. This feature also lets you test your live show and record episodes with a co-host or guest.
The “Embeddable Player” lets you embed your podcast on third-party websites for marketing and promotion.
It is also possible to tailor the fonts, colors, as well as general look of the play based on your brand colors.
Pros of Podbean
To learn more about Podbean as a podcast hosting service provider, let’s now look at some of its pros and cons, starting with the cons.
- Beginner-friendly: As a newbie just starting in the field of podcasting, Podbean is pretty easy to use and set up your podcast.
- Free-plan: Following on the first point, to ensure beginners have it easy, Podbean has a free plan that comes with a feature set that is great for enabling anyone to launch a podcast with a few steps.
- It is intuitive to use: What we found the most appealing about Podbean is that it is extremely easy to use and you can access weekly updates on your podcast with ease, as well as promote and monetize your show.
- Third-party integration: You can set up Auphonic, Mailchimp as well as Resonate after publishing an episode. There are also tutorials to help you set up these integrations.
- Podbean has everything needed to create, publish, promote, and monetize your podcast. It is perhaps one of the few hosting platforms with such capabilities.
Despite Podbean’s great features and advantages, it also has some flaws that the management should look at improving, including:
- Cannot publish on Spotify on a free plan
- Sometimes the analytics are inaccurate and misleading
Where Does Podbean Distribute?
Podbean supports many types of directories to which creators can distribute their podcasts. After the August 2020 update to its interface, Podbean lets podcasters submit their shows to various directories in just a few clicks.
These directories include:
- Apple Podcasts and iTunes
- Spotify (for paid plans)
- Google Podcasts
- Podbean App
How Does Podbean Help Podcasters with Monetization?
So far, we have seen how Podbean lets you create, publish and promote your podcast. But it does not end there as far as Podbean helping you along the way is concerned. There are a number of options the platform helps you monetize your podcast.
Podbean’s Ads Marketplace helps podcasts of all sizes connect with advertisers. The PodAds ad management and dynamic insertion platform give podcasters tools to more efficiently manage their ads and increase revenue.
Additionally, you can also create paid premium content and set prices for each episode or the whole series over a month or a year.
Podcasters are in full control of price customization. There are no cost or upfront fees to take part in this program. Podbean will handle all the technical stuff, such as customer support, and billing.
The Patron Program is also another way Podbean helps podcasters with content monetization. This program is built into the dashboard and designed uniquely for each user’s podcast episodes. For instance, you can set up donor tiers for listeners to pledge monthly with a unique gift for each tier.
Twitch is a popular live streaming platform for gamers while Picarto allows artists to stream their music. What about podcasters?
Podbean Live was designed to allow podcasters to stream their content and monetize it in the process. This feature is a new way for creators to share with their audience, interact with listeners through live chat, and call and earn money.
Podbean Live lets podcasters earn money via Live Show admissions and by receiving virtual gifts from their listeners. When someone joins your stream, they can donate to you via Golden Beans – Podbean’s gifting system. The podcaster can then cash out the points earned from the gifts for fiat currency.
Captivate consists of a community motivated by personalized services for podcasters. The team behind this platform will help you on any issue, at any time.
Moreover, you also access an array of marketing tools including audio players, analytics, distribution options, and customizable websites.
Captivate is one of the oldest podcast hosting service providers, having started in 2003 when the industry was still green.
Today, the platform is easy to use thanks to its clean and basic design. The platform was designed and tested by thousands of podcasters since its launch almost two decades ago.
When you use this platform, all you need to do is focus on making fresh content and building your audience instead of dealing with the frustration of using complicated software.
Access some of the most effective podcasting tools you can never find anywhere else in Captivate.
Captivate has some great features that make it one of the most popular podcast hosting service providers in the game.
Captivate has a number of plugins that make using the platform easy while adding extra functionalities. One of these plugins is called BIG Captivate sync, which allows podcasters to keep their WordPress website automatically up to date.
It also fits your existing website theme.
Another plugin is called Player FM Integration WordPress plugin, which allows podcasters to submit their podcasts to the Player FM directory from the Captivate Distribution page.
There is no limited time since there is unlimited storage. However, downloads increase according to each plan. Additionally, Captivate also does not support video.
But you can add videos to your podcast website.
This depends on the plan you choose, but the more bandwidth the more you have to pay. But you can actually exceed your download/bandwidth in any single month provided you don’t exceed your two months’ worth bandwidth limit.
Because if you exceed your download/bandwidth limit for two months by more than 25%, you will automatically be bumped to the next plan.
Although you will receive an email notification via email.
Captivate analytics is IAB certified and allows podcasters to track the growth of their podcast in 12 months using a chart. Additionally, podcasters can also view listeners’ locations to know where your audience is listening from.
There is also download tracking, which shows the total number of downloads each episode has at any given time.
Podcasters can get a basic free website with responsive templates and a landing page. However, this website is not like a self-hosted website, but still, it performs just like other hosting websites.
Captivate website also has an embed player and three responsive WP templates. If you are a team of co-hosts, you can also input short bios about your co-hosts on your site.
Unlimited Team Collaboration
Team collaboration is an important aspect of building a successful podcast. With Captivate, you can involve everyone – publishers, editors, and producers among others.
This feature is extremely powerful for your podcast blog as well as keeping your readers entertained as they listen to your episodes.
As a platform, Captivate supports direct feed transcription through Descript – and editor integrated to Captivate. The second way to get transcripts is by uploading your SRT file.
If you want to do it manually, there is also an option for that – either by copy-pasting or writing your transcript into Captivate.
Unlike the majority of podcast hosting service providers on the market today that limit the number of episodes you can publish, Captivate does not put a limitation on the number of shows you can publish.
With Captivate, you can talk for many hours every day and you will still be allowed to publish new episodes. However, the platform limits the number of downloads an episode should have.
If your podcast exceeds its allowed number of downloads in a given month, you will get a one-month grace period, allowing up to 10 percent an additional number of downloads for that month.
But if you exceed the number of downloads the following month, you will be forced to upgrade your plan to allow your audience to continue to download your episodes.
Pros of Captivate
Why would you choose Captivate? Here is why:
- Unlimited uploads for podcasts
- Extremely active support team on YouTube and Reddit
- Advanced analytics and tools
- The starter package has virtually the same features and tools as the most expensive package
Cons of Captivate
- There is no free plan
- It is quite costlier
Where Does Podbean Distribute To?
Captivate allows you to distribute your podcasts in a number of directories, including the following:
- Amazon Music
- Apple Podcasts
- Google Podcasts
- Podcast Index
- Pocket Casts
- Player FM
Podbean vs Captivate: Final Comparison
Podbean leads Captivate in virtually all categories, including market segments, usage coverage, geographic coverage, and even the number of users. While you can surely forgive the lagging in the mentioned categories, it is hard to argue in favor of Captivate’s no-free plan packages. With Podbean’s free plan allowing podcasters to create, publish, market, and monetize their podcast without upgrading to a paid plan, any user should choose Podbean over Captivate or any other podcast hosting service provider on the market.