It’s Not Just About the Downloads 

April 1, 2020

By Alison Osborne 

January 2020

When someone thinks of podcast metrics or success, immediately the word “downloads” comes to mind. But it’s predicted that podcast metrics will move away from downloads in 2020 and here’s why. 

As you can tell, Spotify has really made its mark in podcasting. An interesting aspect to look at when it comes to Spotify and podcasts is the fact that there’s no way to download an episode. Spotify’s listener count instead comes from the number of streams. Tom Webster of Edison Research states that: 

“The download economy will start to show some cracks. We are seeing some publishers start to ‘podcastify’ all kinds of content that we might not have traditionally thought of as podcasts to generate more implied impressions. Spotify has already become a significant distributor of podcast content, and as other platforms ramp up walled and proprietary content, those stats are going to look different to the download stats we are all used to. Making a combination of downloads, listens, streams and impressions make sense for advertisers is going to be an existential question for content publishers.” 

Understanding Your Listener

But on top of this, downloads are starting to lose their power when it comes to telling the success of a podcast series. With the emergence of niche podcasts that have a focus on a smaller but highly targeted listener base, downloads don’t always accurately measure the value of a series. Instead, emphasis will shift towards the narrative around a podcast, who’s talking about it? Who’s listening to it? Rather than how many listeners are there. 

Dane Cardiel from Simplecast says it incredibly well: 

“We’ll see a shift in 2020 where the download metric begins to lose its prominence as the main measurement of what makes a successful podcast, successful. Podcasters will have to be diligent in collecting and interpreting any ancillary data to help craft a more compelling story about what makes their connection with their audience more impactful — and more importantly, they will need to educate their partners about why having the full context of their listeners carries so much more value than how many times an episode was downloaded.” 

Overall, we’re excited to see the industry shifting away from just looking at the number of downloads and instead, diving deeper into who it is that’s downloading. And as Spotify continues to grow in the podcast field, we can expect that downloads won’t be nearly as important since the platform counts listens through streams rather than episode downloads. 

Platform
Price
Pro’s
Con's
Anchor

Free

  • Easy to use
  • Automatically distributes your podcast to major platforms.
  • Embed media player.
  • Great if podcasting is a
    side hobby
  • Very basic editing
  • Since it’s a free tool, you don’t have full control over the monetization of your podcast.
  • Not the right platform for people taking podcasting seriously
Buzzsprout

Free for 2 hours of content per month

$12 for 3 hours per month

$18+ for 6 hours and up

  • Very user-friendly
  • Caters to both long term and beginner podcasters
  • Advanced analytics
  • Easy distribution of your episodes
  • They measure their size requirements to hours not megabytes
  • Bonus: get a free $20 Amazon gift card when you sign up for any paid hosting plan!
  • Advanced features like dynamic ad insertion need some work
Libsyn

$5/month for Monthly Storage 50mb

  • Oldest podcast hosting site.
  • Easy distribution to major platforms and great for scaling once your podcast gets bigger.
  • Hosted over 35,000 podcasts.
  • An iTunes Podcast partner.
  • Allows you to publish your podcast to specific directories.
  • Embed media player.
  • Price is based on storage
  • 50mb storage for $5 won’t be enough if you are publishing weekly so you’ll end up with a higher price point
Podbean

Unlimited audio package: $9/month

Storage space:

Unlimited

  • Great support & customer service features
  • Unlimited audio.
  • Pages are easy to customize
  • Can schedule podcast release dates.
  • Easy to use.
  • Uploads and changes to podcast titles and/or descriptions are automatic to Spotify.
  • Embed media player.
  • Simple Analytics
  • Analytics aren’t as advanced as other platforms
  • Upload and changes to podcast titles and/or descriptions take a day to change on iTunes.
  • Not an iTunes podcast partner.
  • The process to send a podcast to iTunes is more tedious. But, you will still be able to get on the platform.
Blubrry

Classic

$5/month

Monthly Storage

50mb

  • Podcast Wordpress plugin and management.
  • If you want to record a new introduction or conclusion, add in a sponsored ad or upload a new version of a podcast, it doesn't count towards your storage usage per month.
  • Blubrry allows a 25% storage overage each month
  • Prices are based on storage.
  • Usability is okay.
SimpleCast

Starting: $15/month

Recommendation: $35/month

Monthly Storage: Unlimited

  • Hosts your audio files no matter what the size!
  • Dynamic insertion for podcast ads or edits.
  • Incredibly detailed analytics including number of episodes completed and listener location tracking.
  • Embed media player.
  • Easy to use.
  • Great distribution! Easy access to all major podcast platforms.
  • Customizable podcast
    website.
  • Prices are slightly higher than other platforms, but well worth it especially if you have a branded company podcast!