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How, Why & When (Not) To Join A Podcast Network

Podcast networks can be an effective way to grow your audience. But when should you join one? And how do you find the right network for your podcast?
Lisa Harroy
Creator Partnerships Lead
Last Updated:
April 1, 2024
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

Joining a podcast network is just one of many different ways to promote, grow, and monetize your show. But is it the right one for you? 

Being part of a podcast network can open a lot of doors when it comes to growing a podcast audience. Although, it also means you might have less control over how you want to market and manage your podcast. 

Keep reading to discover the pros and cons of podcast networks, how they work, and what our number 1 key to podcast success is. We’ve even included a how-to guide and a pitch email template to help you get your podcast on a network!

If you're more of a visual person, you can start with the video below before reading on about everything related to podcast-networks:

What Are Podcast Networks?

Podcast networks are collections of different shows that are produced, distributed, or made available to advertisers through a single company. The number of shows they host varies, but they’re often connected by similar content themes or audiences. 

For example, one of the longest-running, largest, and most powerful podcast networks is Quick and Dirty Tips. It features a dozen or so short-form podcasts that give actionable advice to listeners and gets 2 million monthly podcast downloads.

On the other hand, PodcastOne produces some 350 podcasts weekly and has an annual listenership of over 2 billion people. It hosts over 200 shows spanning a range of genres and works with big-name advertising partners. That said, within the network itself, there are a handful of mini-networks that focus on specific themes, like the LadyGang podcast network.

LadyGang podcast network

How Do Podcast Networks Work?

While some podcast networks host shows simply to boost visibility and share content, the vast majority exist to market podcasts and make them more visible to advertisers. And with podcast statistics showing that the medium is more profitable than ever - 60% of podcast listeners have bought something from a podcast ad - it’s no wonder podcast networks have become so popular.

Podcast networks monetize and promote your show

When you join a podcast network, your show gets promoted on their other shows; they support your digital marketing campaigns; they use their sponsorship connections to place ads in your show.

Podcast ads are usually charged at a flat rate per 1,000 impressions, known as CPM or “cost per mille”. That flat rate depends on the theme, content quality, and frequency of the podcast. It also varies based on which point in the show it is included. According to Improve Podcast, advertisers usually pay:

  • $6-20 CPM for pre-roll ads (before the episode, usually lasting 20-30 seconds).
  • $11-25 CPM for mid-roll ads (in the middle of the episode, usually lasting 60 seconds).
  • $4-15 CPM for post-roll ads (at the end of the episode, usually last 10-20 seconds).

Requirements to join podcast networks

Networks want to work with podcasts that have influence, in order to earn maximum revenue. They will therefore make demands from podcasts in terms of:

  • Number of downloads: usually at least 1,000 per episode, or at least 5,000 per month. The bigger networks will require higher numbers.
  • Frequency of podcasts: at least one per week.
  • Revenue sharing: you’ll have to agree to share revenue with the network, usually 70/30.
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Pros & Cons of Being On a Podcast Network

Podcast Network Pros

  • Sponsorship: podcast networks give you access to high-paying advertisers by pooling listener downloads from other shows. They also do the hard work in finding sponsors, leaving you to focus on content creation.
  • Increased visibility: the discovery or explore sections on podcast directories, like Apple Podcasts and Spotify, are often skewed towards big-name, trusted shows. Independent podcasts find it hard to make their name known, but being part of a network can boost visibility.
  • Grow your listener base: reach new, loyal listeners who already like your podcast genre through cross-promotion on your network’s other shows.
  • Help with production: podcast networks will often offer production and editing coaching and services to help your show be the best quality possible. 
  • Marketing: access bigger marketing budgets and campaign expertise from podcast networking marketing teams.
  • Credibility: being part of a recognized podcast network, especially one that focuses on your genre of content, gives your show greater authority.
  • Networking: access to a wealth of new connections can help you get advice from successful podcasters, find guests to interview, or even just meet new friends.
  • Better insights: networks have the resources to thoroughly analyze your listener data. For example, being part of the Midroll network means your audience (along with those of their other 250+ shows) are included in the industry’s largest podcast listener survey.

Podcast Network Cons

  • Potential loss of control: some podcast networks require you to hand over veto power on your content, meaning you have less control over your content and reduced creativity.
  • Sharing revenue: while you can earn more as part of a podcast network, you do have to pay a cut - usually 30% - of this revenue back to them.
  • Switching hosting services: podcast networks often want all of their shows to be produced and hosted using the same platform, which can not only be inconvenient but could risk you losing listeners loyal to your podcast hosting platform.
  • Ending any existing sponsorships: networks might ask you to sign a contract giving them exclusive rights and control over your sponsors and advertisers.
  • No guarantee of success: despite the many podcasts that profit from joining networks, there’s no guarantee that yours will enjoy the same success. Your priority as a podcast producer is still to ensure you’re creating engaging, high-quality content. Thankfully, using Riverside to record studio-quality audio and video wherever you are makes that part easy!

Getting Your Podcast On A Network: How-To Guide

If you're wondering how to join a podcast network, we'll help you understand everything you need to know step-by-step.

1. Ask yourself if you should join a podcast network

  1. Why are you podcasting? If it’s to make money, then podcast networks are a great way to find new sponsors, increase your visibility and get a marketing boost.
  2. Do you meet the requirements? Podcast networks require a certain number of listeners to make it worth their while to invest in your show.
  3. Do the pros outweigh the cons? 
  4. Will your podcast bring something to the network? Podcast networks are companies looking to turn a profit. Your podcast needs to bring them value, and you need to be able to prove it.

If joining a podcast network is the best decision for your show, the next step is finding the right one to join:

2. Find relevant podcast networks.

To get the best chances of success, you want to join a network that hosts other shows like yours. You can start by:

  • Searching for “indie podcast networks +[your genre]” on Google
  • Asking public forums like the r/podcasts thread on Reddit
  • Browsing sites like Chartable is a good place to start.

    Consider checking out similar shows on podcast directories to find the networks they’re part of. While some include the host or producer name, others handily include their network under the podcast title. 
Relationship category on Apple Podcasts

For example, on this Apple Podcasts search in the Relationships category, we found networks of varying sizes including Wondery and the Cumulus Podcast Network.

Once you’ve found podcast networks that seem relevant, research them thoroughly to see how your show would fit in with their others.

3. Make sure you meet the network’s requirements.

You need to demonstrate your podcast’s value to a network, so make it your priority to grow your podcast as much as possible before pitching. Implement our proven podcast marketing strategies to promote your show and reach your target number of downloads to show the network you’re successful.

4. Make your podcast one that a network would be proud to have.

This may be number four in the guide, but it should remain your number one priority throughout podcast production. Consistent, compelling, quality content is key to your podcast’s success.

Focus on your listeners and what they want to hear by engaging with them and analyzing your audience statistics across your platforms. Produce podcasts that you’re proud of using Riverside: the easiest way to record high-quality audio and video wherever you (or your guests) are in the world.

5. Pitch your podcast.

Use our template below to help create your perfect podcast pitch to your chosen network. 

Remember: don’t be too general, focus on what the network can do for you, or forget to proofread! Do make sure your email subject is short, snappy and makes networks want to open the message.

Hi [name of podcast network or contact person]!

I’m [your name] from [your podcast] and I’m a big fan of the podcasts on your network. In fact, they’re similar to mine. [Give a short 200-word description of what your podcast is about and how it fits into their network; show you’ve done your research!].

Joining [podcast network] would be a mutually beneficial opportunity for us both. I would love to bring [name of podcast]’s *** monthly unique listeners, *** downloads, and *** revenue as of [date] to your existing strong community and to grow with your expert support. 

I also think there’s a gap in your podcast portfolio for a show like mine, given my expertise as [short professional bio illustrating how you’re qualified on the podcast theme].

Please take the time to listen to my top-rated podcasts and check out my listener testimonials [include links] to see why [name of podcast] would be a great choice for your network.

Don’t hesitate to contact me at any time for more information about our potential partnership. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing more from you.

All the best,
[Sign off and contact details]

6. Ask them questions.

Make sure you’re going to be benefiting from the deal and that there are no surprises:

  • Advertising & sponsorship: will you get a say over ad content, who the sponsors are, how much they pay, and the cut the network takes? Can you keep any existing sponsors?
  • Promotion: what sort of a boost will your show get when you join the network? Which shows will you have to promote on your podcast?
  • Platform migration: how much impact will changing podcast hosting platforms have on your show and audience?
  • What are the other benefits of working with them?

The Biggest Podcast Networks

While there are many podcast networks to choose from, these are the largest reaching networks according to an Edison Research report.

  1. SXM Media
  2. Spotify
  3. iHeartRadio
  4. NPR
  5. The New York Times
  6. Audacy
  7. Audioboom
  8. Cumulus Podcast Network
  9. PRX
  10. Wondery
  11. NBC
  12. This American Life
  13. The Walt Disney Company
  14. Kast media
  15. PodcastOne

Alternatives to Podcast Networks

If you’ve made it this far through the article and decided that joining a podcast network isn’t for you - no worries! There are many other ways to promote from your podcast:

  • Engaging with listeners: actively listening to what your audience wants and engaging with them to show that you value them will foster a loyal fan base and encourage word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Branching out into other formats: film yourself recording your show to create video podcasts, or consider doing a live podcast to offer your listeners added value. Riverside makes it easy to do both with our HD quality virtual recording studio.
  • Cross-promoting: this isn’t limited to podcast networks. Network in relevant communities to find other similar podcasts and cross-promote each others’ shows.
  • Sponsorship: plenty of podcasts have sponsors and feature advertisements without being part of a podcast network. Learn more about it in our article on growing and monetizing your podcast.

Set Yourself Up For Success Recording High-Quality Podcasts With Riverside

Joining a podcast network can be an extremely effective way of monetizing your podcast and has many other benefits. However, it’s not for everyone, and there are several factors to bear in mind when deciding if it’s the right strategy for your show.

Whether you’ve come away from this article determined to pitch your podcast to a network or not, one thing remains certain. The best way to set your podcast up for success is to create high-quality, engaging content. Luckily, with Riverside you're guaranteed studio-quality audio and video recordings wherever you are.

Learn more about what Riverside offers, or sign up to start recording high-quality podcasts seamlessly.

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