Love listening to podcasts?
We all do. There is a genuine craze for podcast networks today.
From the era of our parents to the modern-day gen z, audio streaming grew up. Back then, it was only a transistor radio where you could listen to live broadcasts of different channels.
There was a buzzword for it – Audio blogs. But only with the advent of the internet, the term podcast was coined.
There is no doubt that podcasts are taking digital media consumption by storm.
You won’t believe that there are roughly a massive 400 million podcast listeners across the world.
Yes, it’s significantly less than YouTube. But the behavioral consumption quality of , I would say, is better than video content.
So, what exactly is a podcast network, and why are we so curious about it?
Think of a podcast channel that covers everything about films. Meanwhile, there are channels where you get the latest feeds on TV series, social media, and documentaries. And then, there is a bigger platform that hosts all such channels based on pop culture and entertainment, for example.
In simple words, Podcast Network is a cluster of many different podcast channels and shows. Sometimes, they’re focused on a particular theme. While in some cases, you’ll find a diverse range of genres, live radio, and video podcasts under an umbrella.
What’s in for creators and listeners?
Well, as a creator or media company, you’ll have a chance to monetize your shows. You’ll have better promotion opportunities, reception to call to action, and the ability to grow your listenership.
And as a listener, no more wandering across the internet for individual shows from random sites!
You can easily manage your feeds, choices of content, playlists, and listen times – all under a single roof. You’ll get to know life-changing ideas while you do all the multi-tasking activities.
Therefore, this article is an earnest effort in bringing your attention to some of the best podcast network platforms.
We’re going to talk about 10 such platforms that are commonly discussed in the podcast community. Their pros and cons, features, and what they’re generally known for.
Here we go.
1. iHeartRadio (Best multi-genre podcast network)
Doesn’t this sound like an unheard product lineup from Apple?
With over a massive 30m monthly audience, iHeartRadio is the number one audio platform that offers multi-genre content like no one.
It’s one of the earliest podcast networks where you can explore tons of podcast channels, live radio stations and artist streams.
Another great thing is that iHeart’s mobile app comes with great personalization features. And it comes at a monthly and yearly pricing.
You can even use the app on your Apple watch and sync some of the features with your iPhone. Barely you’ll come up with podcast networks that are accessible on multiple devices.
Now what about the web podcast?
Although, the web version is available to you free of cost, it lacks a lot of personalization functionalities. Except “Stuff You Should Know”, I found no other channel to have links for RSS feeds.
But with hundreds of podcast channels, the platform allows you to choose from the ocean of channels or any category you want.
iHeart is for everyone and the diversity of content it offers is unparalleled. For example, there are some channels like The Black Effect, LGBTQ stories that lets the creators from underrepresented communities bring their voices to such a platform.
You can also explore some of the popular shows on iHeart such as Crime Junkie, Stuff You Should Know, The Ben Shapiro Show, etc.
iHeartRadio Key Features
- Ability to sort a diverse range of podcasts by popularity and category like business, entertainment, food, politics, sports, spirituality, and many more.
- Easy to follow your choice of podcasts and creators. Podcast episodes are also downloadable from the App Store.
- Live radio streams are completely free where you can tune in to genres like Comedy, News, Classic Rock, etc.
- Mobile app available on both iOS and Android store at an affordable monthly pricing.
- App interface uses a panel-based grid along with the dark mode feature (not on web version).
iHeartRadio Pros and cons
Things we love about iHeartRadio:
- Multi-genre podcast with tons of channels
- Available as mobile app
- Free to listen on website version
- Easy to personalize and create playlist
- Lacks high-res audio tracks
- Web version lacks personalization experience
- No dark mode for web podcasts
iHeartRadio Plus: On Android $4.99 and on iOS $5.99.
Commercial-free live radio stations, unlimited ad skips on playlist.
iHeartRadio All Access: On Android $9.99 and on iOS $12.99
All the benefits of “Plus” and access to a million of songs. You can save, replay and download podcasts to listen offline.
2. HubSpot Podcast Network (Best for sales and marketing professionals)
You may know HubSpot as one of the biggest cloud-based digital marketing companies. HubSpot is nothing short of tools and resources for your business to stay ahead of the curve.
But with more audiences turning to podcasts as a learning platform, they decided to launch their own podcast network.
Now there are already countless business and marketing podcasts, right?
Well, yes. But what HubSpot is trying to do is declutter the saturated podcast market.
With this new initiative, they’re focusing on creators and listeners around SaaS businesses and startups. You can see a number of creators from different businesses sharing their stories.
They’re embracing talented creators to produce shows and earn monthly compensation in return. As of now, they feature only 25 podcast channels.
But unlike many other podcast networks, HubSpot gives creative freedom to its creators. We can see that HubSpot podcast has grown significantly since its launch last year and will continue to broaden its learning platform.
HubSpot Podcast Features
- 25 high-quality podcast channels on successful business stories and changing dynamics of sales, marketing and customer service.
- Active community of millions of HubSpot users where you can connect with peers and share ideas about podcasts and stuff.
- Media player is pretty basic. So, you can listen to those episodes on Spotify, Apple and Google podcasts with personalized feeds.
- Earning and brand recognition opportunity for talented podcast creators.
HubSpot Podcast Pros and Cons
Things we love about HubSpot Podcast:
- Free and quality content on business and marketing
- Advantage of sales and marketing tools
- Creative freedom to the show owners
- Active community of users
- No mobile app yet
- Build-in player lacks personalization features
HubSpot doesn’t charge for its podcast or any of its learning resources.
3. Wondery (Podcast network with quality audio and mobile app experience)
There is nothing wrong with saying that Wondery is the Netflix-esque audio content platform for podcast lovers.
It has some nice selection of binge-worthy audio episodes that give you back to back blockbuster stories. As thrilling as your favorite detective TV series!
It self-proclaims to be the premium podcast platform, and that is for a reason.
Firstly, because of its acquisition by Amazon Music quite recently. With Amazon’s global outreach and customer services, Wondery has the advantage of bringing unique capabilities for both creators and listeners.
Just like iHeart platform, Wondery also manages to reach broader audiences with a number of genres like Audio Fiction, Kids & Family, Interview, Comedy, News, Personal Growth and more.
After a few listens, you’ll observe a nice mix of scripted and unscripted podcasts, which I really like about Wondery.
You’ll also love the sleek and personalized interface on the mobile app. But the real magic is in Wondery+ where you can enjoy early access to the latest episodes of the premium shows.
And of course, the power of Dolby Atmos where you don’t just dive deeper into the stories but live them.
Wondery Key Features
- Immersive surround sound experience with Dolby Atmos technology on Wondery+.
- Ability to download and listen offline on both website version and mobile app.
- Early access to premium episodes, ad-free listening, and private RSS feeds.
- Wondery for kids lets your small ones explore the magic of podcasts in a safe and fun way.
Wondery Pros and Cons
Things we love about Wondery:
- High-res sound technology from Dolby Atmos
- Smooth personalization feature on app
- A number of hit shows and stories
- Appropriate and safe contents under Kids plan
- A bit limited customizable settings on app
- Nothing worth listening without premium subscription
Monthly plan for Wondery+ is $4.99
Annual plan is $34.99 (means $2.92 per month)
Kids plan $4.99 per month
4. Audioboom (Podcast network with advanced marketing tools)
Audioboom is an all-in-one platform where you can host, distribute and advertise your podcasts seamlessly.
It used to be a podcast recording app that was scrapped off in 2018. But that doesn’t make it any less valuable a platform.
You’ll find a range of thought-provoking, comedy and wellness channels. On top of that, you’ll love many audio series based on fiction, like true crime and mystery.
Audioboom once worked with only in-house creators. But now, it invites global podcast makers to produce a diverse range of content for listeners.
As a creator, the platform helps you with audio optimization of content, which requires a small monthly investment. You can even work directly with the advertisers and monetize your podcast.
You’ll also have an option to integrate with “Headliner” that lets you promote your podcasts over social media. You can create gripping video clips using the app that can help you earn more clicks and listens.
Doesn’t this sound great as a podcast creator?
Overall, Audioboom makes a good podcast network. Had there been a mobile app, Audioboom could have been an exceptionally different platform.
Audioboom Key Features
- Lacks a mobile app, however, its embeddable media player works seamlessly across multiple devices. It’s responsive and you can even customize your player and background for a visual understanding of what the episode is all about.
- Access to advertising tools like dynamic ad insertion, live read, sponsorship and content branding for podcasters with 10k+ plays per episode.
- In-house ad insertion tool SHOWCASE where you can position pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll ads in your podcasts.
- Partnership with a number of distribution platforms: Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, CastBox, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeart, Player FM, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher and TuneIn.
- Integration with the digital marketing tool Headliner to create audiograms for your podcasts and share on social media.
Audioboom Pros and Cons
Things we love about Audioboom:
- One platform for all your podcast solutions: hosting, distributing, and monetizing
- Absolutely free to listen the shows
- Sophisticated and responsive media player
- Episodes available on multiple distribution platforms
- Can’t create a playlist of your favorite channels
- Mobile app discontinued
Audioboom content is free to access. For creators, however, there is a monthly pricing of $9.99 and yearly pricing of $99.
5. BBC Sounds (Best podcast network for news, talks and documentary lovers)
The BBC is a pretty old establishment in the world of radio broadcasting services. Most of you probably know the BBC only for its news broadcasting.
But there are a number of subsidiaries like BBC Sounds that make the BBC one of the biggest media streaming networks. What amazes me about BBC Sounds is the diverse range of topics and the scale of publishing content.
Just take a look and see if any other podcast network offers a curated selection of podcasts at this level! And on top of that, you’ll also have exclusive live radio channels broadcast in over 40 languages across the world.
Another great thing, you can access BBC Sounds on a wide range of devices including mobile phones and tablets, personal computers, cars, and smart televisions.
At the beginning, they only had iPlayer as a mobile podcast app. But now the content is moved to BBC Sounds which makes listening to podcasts, radio, and music in a more personalized manner.
The BBC is an ad-supported service provider. However, media delivered to UK-based listeners does not feature commercial advertising.
Overall, BBC Sounds is a flexible podcast network where you can enjoy the breadth of audio content on any device and in your choice of language.
BBC Sounds Key Features
- Features over 400 podcast channels and several regional live radio channels in different languages.
- Personalized recommendation mode depending on your genre or length of the listens.
- Ability to pause, rewind a live radio, and resume listening from where you left off on any device.
- Sleep Timer button to choose the length of time that you want an episode to play.
- Parental guidance lock where you can hide podcasts labeled with “G” or which use strong language from young listeners.
BBC Sounds Pros and Cons
Things we love about BBC Sounds:
- Diverse range of podcast shows
- Mobile app available
- Sleek user interface on both website and app
- Stream shows free of cost
- Dark mode available on both website and app
- Automatically create the queue of episodes from different podcasts, no manual control.
- No commercial advertising available in UK
BBC Sounds Pricing
Be happy because BBC Sounds on both web and mobile apps is absolutely free of any subscription.
6. PodcastOne.com (Best podcast network with UI and personalization)
PodcastOne is one of the big names among audio streaming providers.
From podcast creation to distribution and brand recognition, PodcastOne offers you an all-in-one solution for your audio publications.
Although founded in 2013, PodcastOne didn’t step into monetization until 2017. The platform severely lacked consistency and watch times.
But ever since they partnered with ad services provider AdsWizz, they saw a significant jump in watch times and downloads. And as of now, PodcastOne produces over 350 hours of original podcasts weekly and sees over 2.1 billion annual downloads.
Now there is yet another partnership program from Adori Labs that helped PodcastOne take advantage of its interface technology.
What kind of advantage?
Well, you can add visual elements which gives your listeners a UI-based audio experience unlike any other platform.
Means, an interface where you can add multiple ad formats, CTA buttons, audience polls, and many real-time engagement stuff for your audience. You can even use RSS feeds to auto-upload and promote your contents on YouTube.
They also feature an audio-driven AR tool for better listener engagement.
PodcastOne Key Features
- AdsWizz’s ad solution helps you with sophisticated targeting, ad insertion, campaign management and tracking on both downloaded and streamed podcasts.
- Adori’s visual interface is a patented technology that offers a unique way to engage your audience with in-podcast interactive elements like action buttons, polls, AR, etc.
- Lets you not only host the podcasts, but distribute them across many platforms.
- Customizable embeddable podcast player that syncs with the theme of your content.
- Seamless podcast experience on mobile app where you can keep track of your listens, manage playlists and downloads.
PodcastOne Pros and Cons
Things we love about PodcastOne:
- Diverse range of podcast shows
- Mobile app comes with cool personalization features
- Interactive experience for the listeners
- Listen shows at free of cost
- Free hosting and monetization isn’t widely available yet
- No option to resume your podcast in its media player
PodcastOne is an ad-supported audio streaming platform and is free of cost.
7. TuneIn (Podcast network with multi-device & multi-language support)
It’s always a great listening experience when you can access your favorite podcast across multiple devices. TuneIn is one of the very few podcast networks which gives you a plethora of options to stream on any device.
Mobile app for a podcast network is always a great way to personalize and keep track of your activities. But TuneIn goes beyond that. You can also access them via tablets, cars, gaming consoles, wearables, and smart speakers.
Okay, so what about the contents?
Besides podcasts, you’ve a lot to explore on the live radio channels, live sports, news, audiobooks, and original stories.
The mobile app is designed in a way to search your content by trending stations, top podcasts or language in a few taps.
But what makes TuneIn unique is its multilingual ability. You can choose from the list of 100 languages so that you never miss a beat in your native language.
Moreover, you can even browse by regions including Asia, Africa, Europe, North and Sound America.
Multiple devices, multiple languages, and multiple audio contents. Pretty unique, isn’t it?
TuneIn Key Features
- Features countless high-quality podcasts like News, Science, Food, Philosophy, Comedy, Music and much more.
- Channels can be tagged with multiple categories like genre, location, and creator which makes searching and filtering out the content easier.
- Alarm and sleep timer options to keep track of your listening activities.
- Also comes with promotion and analytics features for the audio publishers.
TuneIn Pros and Cons
Things we love about TuneIn:
- Free mobile app to listen podcasts
- No annoying pop up ads on app
- Multi-lingual channels and radio stations
- Cool UI and personalization features
- Ability to connect with multiple devices
- Requires restarting stream after taking a call
- Frequent buffering issues in live radio stations
- Would love to see dark mode on app
TuneIn doesn’t feature any ads (besides promoting TuneIn Premium services), which makes the listening experience even better.
TuneIn mobile app requires a monthly pricing of $9.99. Or an annual pricing of $99.99.
8. Cadence 13 (Podcast network with the best cinematic-audio experience)
Cadence13 is a division of Entercom and one of the world’s most innovative companies as per Fast Company.
The biggest selling points of the platform are “C13 Originals” and “Fiction” which is basically a series of documentaries and movies.
However, there are already some podcast networks that offer drama series. What’s new about it?
They call it “movie for your ear”. They produce cinema-like podcasts with the theatrical ambience, feature-length shows, and life-sized characters. A gripping audio experience that takes your imagination to another level.
While C13 Originals gives you multi-genre documentaries, Fiction is the latest initiative focused on producing podcast movies. As of now, you can find up to 16 documentaries and 2 movies on Cadence.
Besides that, you can access a number of podcasts based on comedy, news, sports and much more.
Cadence may not have a long history in the podcast business. But they never fail in producing shows with global personalities.
Meanwhile, Cadence is focused on creating a new show with stars Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan. The show “The Sunshine Place” is an investigation series which you can listen to on the website for free.
However, you may need to visit Spotify, Audacy or Apple’s podcast mobile apps if you’re looking for a high-res audio experience.
Cadence13 Key Features
- Over 100 premium podcasts including genres like Influencers, news, business, comedy, education, fiction, health, sports and more.
- C13Features produces movie-like podcast shows and fictions. For example, Treat.
- Partnership with popular meditation app Headspace to let you benefit from in-app meditation and mindfulness content at no extra cost.
- Features a number of distribution partners like Audacy, Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music where you can manage your playlists and personalize your feeds.
Cadence13 Pros and Cons
Things we love about Cadence13:
- Free to listen podcasts
- A number of cinema-style podcast shows
- Great platform for podcasters and advertisers
- Ability to create branded episodes for monetization
- Lacks mobile app
- Interface is pretty basic and no personalization
Absolutely free of cost.
9. Parcast (Most popular podcast network among dark fiction lovers)
Are you a fan of mystery and creepy stories that shake you to the core?
Having heard channels like Unsolved Murders and Haunted Places, Parcast seems to me the best platform for unique dark tales.
Parcast’s podcast network isn’t something where you can expect a general talk show, comedy or pop culture. They focus more on the mature and mind twisting stories created by the in-house writers.
It’s obvious that genres like mystery, true crime, sci-fi and history complement well with each other.
In 2016, they came up with an idea to use this recipe and created story-based channels. A few things changed though when Spotify acquired Parcast 3 years later.
You can now listen to some lighter talks, lifestyle and music as well. You can also find them in multiple languages – Spanish, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Hindi, and Indonesian.
Also, Parcast no longer features a built-in media player. All the episodes are accessible only on Spotify where you can personalize your playlists the way you want.
Parcast Key Features
- Besides Spotify, you can access Parcast on many other platforms like iTunes, Google Podcast, Pandora, Stitcher, and TuneIn.
- With the advantage of Spotify, you can listen to your favorite podcasts on a high-res audio as well as on offline mode.
- All podcasts and audio dramas are produced in-house with full creative control over original storytelling.
- Publishes over 40 shows every week bringing you fresh crime and mystery stories.
Parcast Pros and cons
Things we love about Parcast:
- Contents are free to listen
- Can be streamed on distribution platforms
- Supports multiple languages
- Creative control as the content is produced in-house
- Lacks a diverse range of genres
- Doesn’t have its own media player
- No mobile app available
Parcast’s content is available for free, but lacks a built-in media player. So, you need to have Spotify app with the subscription fee that suits you the best.
10. The Ringer (Most popular podcast network among sports and movie fans)
Are you madly in love with some sports and pop culture hangovers?
The Ringer is exactly the platform for podcoholic listeners like you. You’ll love the breakdowns of global sports that don’t echo your stereotypical news channels. They bring many under-covered topics and unique stats to the table.
Why won’t they?
After all, their creators previously worked on a similar platform that was owned by ESPN. Really helpful for you if you’re an avid sports fan or looking to pursue a career as a sports analyst!
Now don’t think the Ringer is a podcast network only for sports nerds. They are crazy for GoT and House of the Dragon series as well.
You’ll also find discussions on many popular films, OTT series, music, and live events.
When The Ringer was released back in 2016, they had a lineup of some 30 podcast channels.
And with the recent acquisition by Spotify, the number of channels grew to 60 adding some interesting genres like sports betting, food and lifestyle talks as well as video podcasts.
The Ringer key features
- About 60 channels hosted by Ringer creators where the guests are mainly sportspersons, actors, filmmakers, comedians, and internet personalities.
- News reporting-style video podcast about TV series, movies, music, sports and many more.
- With Spotify’s ad-based model, Ringer creators have the advantage of improving their own ad sales.
- Features merchandise store for avid listeners or long-time Ringer fans.
The Ringer Pros and Cons
Things we love about The Ringer:
- Includes video podcast series
- Quality contents on global sports and pop culture
- Podcasts are free to listen
- All channels regularly updated and active
- Lacks a diverse range of genres
- Don’t have their own mobile app
The Ringer is absolutely free to listen. But for a complete personalized mobile experience, you need to have Spotify app with the monthly subscription.
Each of these podcasts brings something unique to your table. Some of them produce their own shows. While others collaborate with different creators.
If you ask me as a listener, I feel Wondery and TuneIn offer you a good mix of personalization and audio experience.
Now, if you’re planning to join as a creator on any one of these networks, I’m afraid they’re not for everyone.
Unless your episodes have a decent number of views or downloads, it’s unlikely for you to take your channel to these networks.
Each of them asks for different requirements. So if you’re completely new to podcast creation, start independently and try earning a good number of subscribers.
Another disadvantage is that they take a portion of your revenue, which you earn via ads. So, your choice depends on if the network maintains a good balance of listenership and percentage of cut.
Overall, podcast networks are a great way to get easier access to sponsors. Advertisers prefer shows that have a decent number of views and downloads, which is a way to attract bigger sponsors.