Biggest Podcast Platforms: Top 5 Leads

by | Hosting

What a time to be alive for podcast enthusiasts! Both creators and listeners alike are swimming in a sea of options when it comes to platforms for disseminating and consuming podcast content. Each platform has its unique quirks, features, and audiences, but how does one navigate this sprawling soundscape? Welcome to the comprehensive guide, where we’ll dive deep into the biggest podcast platforms today, examining their nooks and crannies and surfacing with a better understanding of each platform’s unique appeal.

If you’re a content creator, this is your GPS to the podcasting world. Even if you’re a listener trying to find a platform that suits your preferences, I assure you that we’ve got something for you too. But before we begin our virtual tour, let’s take a moment to consider why evaluating podcast platforms is critical, whether you’re a creator or a listener.

Evaluating Podcast Platforms

So, why exactly is evaluating podcast platforms such a big deal? Let’s dive into it. Whether you’re a podcast creator or a podcast consumer, understanding the diverse landscape of podcast platforms can provide you with valuable insights. For creators, it helps tailor the content to reach the right audience while listeners can optimize their listening experience.

Importance Of Evaluating Podcast Platforms

Evaluation is a key process for any venture. It’s just like buying a car; you wouldn’t just walk into the dealership and buy the first car you see, would you? You would consider various factors like your budget, the car’s performance, its mileage, and a lot more. The same applies to podcast platforms.

Whether you’re creating content or consuming it, picking the right platform can make a world of difference. Let’s delve into why this evaluation matters for both groups: the content creators and the listeners.

For Content Creators

With the podcast industry booming, there has never been a more crucial time for creators to make informed decisions about where to host their content. Choosing the right platform can impact your reach, engagement, and even your revenue. It’s not just about uploading your audio files to the internet; it’s about understanding your audience, their listening habits, and the unique features each platform offers to help you achieve your goals.

The rise of the podcast industry has also seen a parallel surge in the sophistication of podcast analytics. Insightful data can guide creators in fine-tuning their content strategy, making every episode more effective than the last. It’s like having a treasure map in the realm of podcasting. But more on this later!

For Listeners

And if you’re on the other side of the spectrum, a voracious podcast consumer, you might be thinking, “Why should I care about this?” Well, dear listener, your listening experience can be heavily influenced by the choice of platform. Each platform’s interface, its discovery features, the availability of your favorite podcasts, and even the playback speed can transform your listening experience. So, let’s make sure you’re tuned into the right frequency.

Related: Best Podcast Hosting Platforms

Criteria For Evaluating Podcast Platforms

Okay, so we’ve established that evaluating podcast platforms is crucial. But what should you be looking for in your evaluation? We can’t exactly use the same criteria we’d use to buy a car, can we?

While every creator and listener might have unique needs, some universal factors can help you make an informed decision. So, let’s pop the hood and look at what makes a podcast platform stand out. We’ll be examining factors like user interface and user experience, audience reach, analytics and insights, monetization opportunities, compatibility and integrations, as well as cost and affordability.

  • User interface and user experience (UI/UX): Does the platform offer a seamless and intuitive interface? Can you easily discover and manage your favorite podcasts?
  • Audience reach: How large is the platform’s user base? Is the platform popular in your target geographical locations?
  • Analytics and insights: For creators, does the platform offer detailed and useful data about listener behavior?
  • Monetization opportunities: What opportunities does the platform provide for creators to earn revenue from their content?
  • Compatibility and integrations: Is the platform compatible with a range of devices? Does it integrate with other tools that you use?
  • Cost and affordability: Does the platform offer good value for its price? Are there hidden costs?

The ideal podcast platform will score well on all these parameters. But, as with most things in life, it’s all about finding the right balance for your unique needs.

Overview Of The Biggest Podcast Platforms

Now that we know what we’re looking for, let’s get to know the biggest players in the game.

1. Apple Podcasts

Apple, the tech behemoth, was one of the early advocates of podcasts. Apple Podcasts, launched in 2005, has been at the forefront of the podcast boom. Its mission is to provide a platform that fosters creativity and brings diverse voices to the forefront.

Apple Podcasts focuses on providing a seamless user experience with a user-friendly interface and rich discovery features. It is one of the largest podcast platforms, with millions of podcasts spanning various genres. And the best part? It’s free for listeners!

User Interface and User Experience

Apple Podcasts offers an intuitive interface, making it easy for listeners to discover new podcasts, subscribe to their favorites, and manage their podcast library. The platform is integrated into the Apple ecosystem, meaning that it works flawlessly on all Apple devices, offering a seamless listening experience.

Audience Reach

Apple Podcasts has a significant user base, primarily composed of iOS users. This massive reach offers a great advantage to creators, especially those targeting Apple’s demographic.

Analytics and Insights

For creators, Apple Podcasts provides detailed analytics, including the total number of listens, average listening duration, and listener demographics. This data can be instrumental in shaping your podcast strategy.

Monetization Opportunities

While Apple Podcasts does not have a built-in ad platform, it does allow creators to monetize their podcasts through sponsorships and listener donations.

Compatibility and Integrations

Being a part of the Apple ecosystem, Apple Podcasts is compatible with all Apple devices. It also integrates with Siri, allowing podcast listeners to control their podcasts with voice commands.

Cost and Affordability

Apple Podcasts is free for listeners. For creators, there’s no direct cost involved in hosting podcasts, unlike some other podcast hosting platforms, but they would need to manage their hosting service.

2. Spotify

Starting out as a music streaming platform in 2006, Spotify diversified into the world of podcasts around 2015. Today, it’s one of the most popular podcast platforms globally. Spotify’s mission is to unlock the potential of human creativity by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their work and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.

Spotify has consistently worked on making its platform more creator-friendly. The platform supports video podcasts and boasts a well-rounded analytics dashboard, helping creators understand their audience better.

Related: How to Submit Your Podcast to Spotify

User Interface and User Experience

Spotify, one of the biggest podcast platforms in our list, offers both free and premium plans.

Spotify’s UI is smooth and sleek. Podcast discovery on Spotify is a joy, with personalized podcast recommendations based on your listening history and the possibility of creating your own podcast playlists.

Audience Reach

With over 345 million active users as of 2021, Spotify’s reach is truly massive. It’s especially the most popular podcast platform among millennials and Gen Z, making it the perfect platform for creators targeting this demographic.

Analytics and Insights

Spotify for Podcasters, the platform’s creator dashboard, offers insights into the performance of your podcast episodes, including the number of starts, streams, and listeners, along with their demographic information. This level of detail can help you refine your podcast content strategy and broaden your reach.

Monetization Opportunities

In 2020, Spotify acquired Anchor, a podcast creation tool that comes with built-in monetization features. Anchor allows creators to add sponsor messages to their podcasts or to accept listener donations.

Compatibility and Integrations

Spotify is compatible across a wide range of devices and operating systems, ensuring your podcast can reach your audience, no matter what device they use. It also integrates well with social media platforms, allowing easy sharing of podcast episodes.

Cost and Affordability

For listeners, Spotify offers both free and premium plans. The free version is ad-supported, while the premium version offers ad-free listening and offline downloads. For creators, Spotify is free to use, though using Anchor for podcast creation and monetization comes with its own cost.

3. Google Podcasts

Google Podcasts, launched in 2018, is Google’s dedicated platform for podcast listening. Google’s mission with this platform is simple yet grand: to help double the amount of podcast listening in the world over the next couple of years.

Google Podcasts is heavily integrated with Google’s search technology, making podcast discovery easy for listeners and ensuring your podcast gets found by the right audience.

Related: How To Get Your Podcast Listed On Google Play

User Interface and User Experience

Google Podcasts offers a clean, straightforward user interface. You can easily subscribe to podcasts, download episodes for offline video/audio listening, and even set a sleep timer if you like to listen to podcasts before bed.

Audience Reach

As a product of Google, Google Podcasts has a significant audience reach. It comes pre-installed on many Android devices, and its strong search integration means it’s an excellent platform for podcast SEO.

Analytics and Insights

Google Podcasts Manager offers podcasters insights into their podcast performance, such as the number of listens per episode, listener demographics, and retention analytics. This data can be invaluable in optimizing your podcast for maximum listener engagement.

Monetization Opportunities

Currently, Google Podcasts does not offer built-in monetization opportunities. Creators would need to seek sponsorships or donations independently.

Compatibility and Integrations

Google Podcasts is compatible with both Android and iOS devices, and it integrates seamlessly with Google Assistant, allowing listeners to control their podcasts with voice commands.

Cost and Affordability

Google Podcasts is free for both listeners and creators.

4. Pandora

It can be helpful to get an overview of the biggest podcast platforms.

Image by Freepik

Pandora‘s journey began in 2000 with the Music Genome Project, aiming to capture the essence of music at its most fundamental level. By 2005, it launched its online radio service, followed by its foray into podcasting in 2018. Pandora’s mission is to play the perfect music or podcast for every moment of their listener’s life, enabling them to discover artists, songs, and podcasts they’ll love.

User Interface and User Experience

Pandora’s interface is user-friendly, boasting a clean and intuitive design. The app allows you to seamlessly transition between your favorite music and podcasts, making for a unique blend of content.

Audience Reach

With over 58 million active users as of 2021, Pandora has a large listener base. However, its availability is mostly limited to the United States, impacting its global reach.

Analytics and Insights

Pandora offers the AMP Playbook, a resource packed with unique tools, features, and best practices for musicians and podcasters. It also provides analytics, giving creators insights into their audience, streams, and performance.

Monetization Opportunities

Pandora provides monetization opportunities through ads. However, the platform controls ad placement, meaning creators do not have much say in the ads that appear during their podcasts.

Compatibility and Integrations

Pandora is available on a wide range of devices and integrates with a variety of smart home devices and car systems, ensuring listeners can tune in wherever they are.

Cost and Affordability

When it comes to cost and affordability, Pandora offers a range of options to cater to its users’ unique preferences and budgets. According to the official Pandora website, listeners can choose from three primary plans: Free, Pandora Plus, and Pandora Premium.

  • Free plan: The Free plan, as the name suggests, costs nothing. It offers an ad-supported listening experience that includes the ability to personalize stations, create playlists, and access a diverse array of podcasts.
  • Pandora Plus: For those seeking an ad-free experience, Pandora Plus might be an attractive option. Priced at $4.99 per month, Pandora Plus offers all the benefits of the Free plan, along with high-quality audio, unlimited skips and replays, and offline listening.
  • Pandora Premium: For those desiring complete control over their listening experience, Pandora Premium is the way to go. For $9.99 per month, listeners gain on-demand access to any song or album, create and share playlists, download music for offline listening, and enjoy a completely ad-free experience.

For creators, there’s no cost involved in uploading and distributing a podcast on the platform. This makes Pandora a cost-effective option for podcast creators, allowing them to reach their audience without having to worry about distribution costs.

5. Stitcher

Stitcher, one of the biggest podcast platforms in our list, is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.

Founded in 2008, Stitcher was an early entrant in the podcasting world. It’s a platform dedicated to delivering the best parts of radio on-demand to weekly podcast listeners. It allows listeners to customize their listening experience, discover shows they love, and listen anytime, anywhere.

Related: How To Get Your Podcast On Stitcher

User Interface and User Experience

Stitcher‘s user interface is relatively straightforward. It features a customizable “Front Page” for your favorite shows and recommends podcasts based on your listening behavior.

Audience Reach

While Stitcher’s exact user numbers are unknown in the podcast market, the platform houses over 260,000 podcasts, indicating a significant listener base.

Analytics and Insights

Stitcher provides creators with detailed analytics, including data on listens, listener locations, and how users are listening. This information can be valuable for refining your content and marketing strategy.

Monetization Opportunities

Stitcher offers two monetization methods. The Stitcher Premium service allows creators to offer bonus episodes and ad-free listening for a subscription fee. Creators can also make money through ads, with Stitcher sharing the revenue.

Compatibility and Integrations

Stitcher’s app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. The platform also integrates with over 50 car models and Amazon Echo devices.

Cost and Affordability

For listeners, Stitcher offers a free, ad-supported version and a premium version with bonus content and ad-free listening. For creators, uploading a podcast to Stitcher is free.

An Important Update About Stitcher

In a significant announcement, Stitcher has confirmed that it will be shutting down its apps and web listening services as of August 29, 2023. This development was shared via an official statement on Stitcher’s website.

The Future Of Podcast Platforms

Two people listening on Spotify, one of the biggest podcast platforms on our list.

Image by Freepik

As we look ahead, the future of podcast platforms appears bright and filled with potential. With advancements in AI and machine learning, personalized and interactive listening experiences will become even more refined. With the expected growth in the podcasting industry, we’re likely to see an increased focus on listener engagement, monetization options, and improved analytics.

For creators, these innovations could provide more tools to reach their audience effectively. For listeners, the abundance of content and improved discoverability mean they’ll have access to a wide array of podcasts tailored to their preferences.


The landscape of podcast platforms is diverse and dynamic. As a creator or listener, your choice will depend on a variety of factors, including audience reach, user experience, monetization options, and more. However, with detailed knowledge about each platform’s strengths and offerings, you’re better equipped to make an informed decision.

Remember, the podcasting world is continuously evolving, offering new opportunities and experiences. Keep exploring, stay adaptable, and let your passion for podcasting guide you on this journey.