In this article we review the 4 top podcast platforms, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Podcasting is a media form that has been growing steadily for many years. The first podcasts started as supplements to RSS Feeds in the early 2000s. They started to gain notoriety when Apple added a podcasts section to iTunes, and big named celebrities like comedian Ricky Gervais and the then American President George W. Bush’s White House were releasing podcasts.
As time has progressed, more applications which act as a hosting area for podcasts, known as directories have appeared. There are many available on many obscure devices. This article will discuss some of the biggest and then advise you on which is the best.
Stitcher is arguably the biggest independent podcast directory. With over 5 million downloads available on both the iOS and Android App stores, plus it is also available on your PC and other devices through your web browser.
- Universal login – Google, Facebook and Email login which means you can easily use an existing account rather than having to make a new one for this particular app.
- Exclusive content – Many podcast networks, who essentially are the organisations who write, record and post the higher budget podcasts, post exclusive content with certain podcast directories. Often, this directory is Stitcher.
- Premium service – In addition to this, Stitcher Premium is a service in which users can pay a fee of $4.99 a month, or $35 a year. With Stitcher premium you are given access to even more exclusive content. Audiobooks, Podcasts and advanced features are the main selling points of this service.
- The main problem with Stitcher premium is that the app is rather difficult to use.
- The app feels less intuitive to use.
- The search functionality is notoriously poor.
Google Podcasts is Google’s latest attempt at entering the podcasting marketplace. In the past, they have tried releasing platforms and interlinking them with their other services such as Google Play Music and YouTube. Now though, they have a completely standalone application, which has been met with positive reception.
- Easy to use – A very simple, straight forward, functional application.
- Good integration – It fits in very well with other Google applications, with their familiar look and feel. There is a good, flowing integration with the Google Home smart speaker system and any Android devices.
- Relevant recommendations – The recommendations are good and in line with your listening habits. It’s likely that, in true Google style, the good recommendations are because Google holds a lot of data on you, and this application is there to collect even more
- Donate to podcast – A standout feature in this directory is that there is a button that allows you to donate to the podcast creator, meaning that you are able to directly support your favourite content creators.
- You can only login with a Google account, there is no support for a Facebook account or using a non-Gmail email address.
- Reviewers on the Android application store feel that they do not like how the application has forced them off using the simpler system on Google Play Music.
- Strangely, you are unable to access the Google podcasts service through your internet browser on your PC, and instead are confined to the apps on your devices.
- There is currently no iOS version of the app, but if Google were to keep their usual pattern, one should be along soon.
Similarly, Apple has had many attempts at the podcasting directory market over the years, albeit in a more successful way. Apple adding podcasting to iTunes in the mid-00s was a major evolutionary step in the podcasting space, and helped send the media mainstream. Suddenly, the king of digital music, Apple, was promoting podcasts, introducing podcasters a level of attention that they had never seen before.
To access Podcasts through Apple services, you can get them through iTunes or the standalone Apple Podcasts app. The two are very similar, but here we are specifically talking about Apple Podcasts.
- Wide choice – A standalone app which has a vibrant selection of Podcasts.
- Exclusive podcasts – Plenty of ‘Apple Enthusiasts’ who make their podcasts exclusively for iTunes, therefore there are plenty of exclusive podcasts on the platform.
- Easy to use – An easy to use application with good suggestions and a huge variety of podcasts.
- If you have an apple device, the app will work perfectly with all your other devices. Mac, iPhone and Smart speakers are all integrated into the Apple Ecosystem.
- Neither the iTunes App nor Apple Podcasts are available on the Google Play Store.
- To listen on Windows, you have to download the notoriously invasive iTunes programme.
The final one on this list is CastBox. They are, measuring by application downloads, the least popular on the list, but in no way does that mean that they are worse.
CastBox is available on your PC, and any Android and iOS device.
- Use of AI – CastBox uses a unique AI technology to transcribe every podcast on their network, meaning that if you could only remember a certain quote from an episode, you’d theoretically be able to find it.
- Technology agnostic – CastBox is like Stitcher in terms of being independent from the two technology giants Google and Apple, meaning that whatever your device is, you should always get an excellent service.
- Easy to use – The app itself is very easy to use and navigate around. Whereas Stitcher is difficult to understand, CastBox could be used by anyone.
- Original content – The app has great original content too, and has been referred to as the Netflix of Podcasts by FastCompany.
- The ‘you may like’ suggestions could be better.
To conclude, the best platform is CastBox in our opinion. We advise downloading the free app if you want to start listening to podcasts or if you are dissatisfied with your current podcast directory.