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Simplecast Podcast Host: Review & Walkthrough

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Simplecast Podcast Host: Review & Walkthrough

Even after 9 years, Simplecast claims it’s the easiest way for podcasters to publish audio to the world. It calls itself ‘the modern podcast hosting, distribution, and analytics platform’ and aims to simplify and streamline key workflows. But with its cheapest pricing plan starting at $15 per month, is it really the best option out there?  This Simplecast review and walkthrough looks at all its main features, advantages and disadvantages, and compares it to major competitors. By the end, you’ll have a detailed understanding of how Simplecast works and whether it’s the right podcast hosting platform for you. 

TL:DR 

  • Simplecast is a podcast hosting, distribution and management tool. You can’t create, record, edit or monetize with Simplecast. 
  • There are four pricing plans aimed at independent creators, and two for enterprise and pro podcasters. 
  • Simplecast’s USPs include its higher power analytics, unlimited storage regardless of your subscription, a customizable media player, and one-click distribution. 

How we’re reviewing Simplecast

Before we get into Simplecast, let’s take a look at how we’re reviewing it. We’ve pinpointed seven different factors that we think are a good indication of how a podcast hosting platform performs:  

Pricing 

How much a podcast hosting platform costs, its pricing plans, and which features are included with each tier are big considerations for beginner and pro podcasters alike. Even for podcasters with an unlimited budget, ensuring that the podcast hosting platform offers genuine value for money is essential. 

Analytics 

Being able to proactively monitor and measure your podcast’s performance is at the crux of most podcasts’ growth strategy. We look at how the stats and insights are presented, how accessible they are, as well as how in-depth they go. 

Media Player 

An embeddable media player is an indispensable tool because it allows you to share your content with your listeners beyond the major listening platforms. We look at how customizable the media player is as well as whether you can choose to embed a single episode or multiple. 

File Hosting 

Compatible file formats correlate directly to the quality of audio that you’re able to upload and share with your listeners. We particularly look out for hosting platforms that work with lossless file formats that preserve the integrity of your recording. And although not an absolute necessity, we look at whether the platform also caters to video podcasting

Distribution 

A podcast hosting platform should make distributing your podcast easy. Ideally, the process will be completely automated so you don’t even have to think about publishing your content to the major platforms. 

Monetization 

The ability to monetize your podcast directly from your podcast hosting platform is invaluable. With the number of steps involved in creating a podcast, removing the need to invest in yet another platform to create revenue shouldn’t be underestimated. We look at the income streams that the platform offers, as well as how easy they make it to participate. 

Useability and Additional Features 

Last, but certainly not least, we look at how usable the platform is. At a basic level, we believe that the interface should be user-friendly and intuitive. Ideally, the platform will offer some standout additional features that actively improve or streamline the user experience. 

Simplecast: Quick Takeaways 

Quick summary: 

Simplecast is a podcast hosting and management platform. They offer unlimited hosting (regardless of your pricing plan) streamlined distribution and seriously in-depth analytics. Their functionality and additional features are very palpably designed with podcasters in mind. 

Simplecast pricing: Simplecast has three pricing plans aimed at independent podcasters starting at $15/month. 

Simplecast USPs:

  • Audience by Simplecast. High-power analytics for an affordable price. 
  • Unlimited storage on all plans. Even if you opt for the basic subscription, there’s no limit. 
  • Media player. Customizable, embeddable, and intelligent media player that delivers key audience analytics. 
  • One-click publishing to wherever your audience listens. 

What is Simplecast? 

Simplecast, otherwise known as Audios Ventures, was founded in 2013. It is a podcast management platform that helps podcasters publish, distribute and analyze their content. It was acquired by Sirius XM in 2020. It styles itself as the ultimate podcast management tool: ‘the first and last word in podcast management and analytics’, and stands out from competitor platforms for just the detailed data insights it delivers to podcasters.

How much does Simplecast cost? 

As we mentioned, Simplecast has 3 pricing tiers for independent creators: 

BASIC - $15/month or $13.50 /month if paid annually

  • Unlimited storage and uploads
  • Distribution to everywhere that your audience listens
  • Customizable podcast website with a custom domain 
  • 1 additional team member
  • Embeddable media player
  • Recast for you (and your listeners) 
  • A secure (HTTPS) site and RSS feed 
  • 20K downloads included per month 
  • Email support 

ESSENTIAL - $35/month or $31.50/month if paid annually 

Everything in Basic + 

  • 2 additional team member permission sets
  • 2 new web players (mini and show) 
  • Custom site page
  • Episode comparison tool 
  • Country and state location analytics
  • Unique listeners reports
  • Web player analytics 
  • 50K downloads included per month 

GROWTH - $85/month - $76.50 if paid annually

Everything in basic + essential 

  • 9 team member seats 
  • City and metro area location analytics
  • Drop-off and speed reports (web players) 
  • Episode % completed (web players) 
  • Full Recast analytics
  • Internet providers and listening locations 
  • Compare up to 5 episodes analytics
  • API publishing 
  • 120 K downloads included per month 

PROFESSIONAL AND ENTERPRISE - pricing on request 

  • Volume show pricing 
  • 15 team member seats
  • Location analytics
  • Consumption analytics
  • Episode retention data
  • Real-time analytics
  • Multi-show analytics
  • MAE dynamic audio suite 
  • Analytics API 
  • Priority customer support
  • Setup and migration 
  • Uptime guarantee

Enterprise also has: 

  • Volume pricing for team member seats
  • White-labeled RSS URL 
  • oAuth support
  • Publisher API 
  • Private distribution API
    SSO 
  • High bitrate audio 
  • Dedicated success manager
  • Personalized onboarding 
  • Technical implementation support and services
  • Custom reports with industry-first insights

Advantages of Simplecast

Multiple shows

Simplecast allows you to have multiple shows associated with your account. This is ideal for professional podcasters who are working on more than one show at a time, but still want to manage all of their content from a single platform. (note, however, that you have to pay per show). 

Team members and permission levels 

Depending on your subscription plan, you’re able to invite team members to collaborate with you on Simplecast. You’re also able to set different permission levels and limit access and powers accordingly. 

One click publishing 

True to its name, Simplecast makes podcast distribution simple. You can publish your podcast in one-click to all the major listening platforms or wherever your listeners like to tune in to your content. 

It’s easy to migrate your podcast to Simplecast

Simplecast removes the hassle from show migration with its Simplecast Show Migrator. Designed to ensure there is ‘zero heavy lifting’ required to move over to Simplecast, you can sit back and relax whilst your show gets transferred. 

Intelligent and customizable web player 

Simplecast takes media players to the next level. Regardless of your subscription plan, you get access to an embeddable web player that is both compatible with mobile and responsive, meaning it adapts to whatever site you embed it in. The level of customizability and functionality depends on which plan you’re on. 

There are three types of media player: the Standard Simplecast Audio Player, the Simplecast Mini Player and the Simplecast Show Player (more on this later). 

Easy Social Media Sharing 

Simplecast makes it easy to share your podcasts on social media. Recast is their ‘social sharing and discovery tool’ that helps you create social-media ready audio snippets that are highly-shareable and will help you reach new audiences. We deep dive into Recast a little later. 

Podcast website 

A customizable podcast website with the option to use your own branded domain. If not, you’ll be assigned an automatic URL which looks like this http://yourshowname.simplecast.com. Your site will be automatically updated with new episodes. Currently, you’re not able to add multiple pages (but they say this is in the works). 

Sleek and easy to use 

Simplecast lives up to its name with a sleek and simple interface that is stylishly designed and extremely user-friendly. 

Private podcast

You’re able to publish what Simplecast refers to as ‘private podcasts’. These are hidden from your RSS feed and are not published to major listening platforms. If you have podcast subscriptions, for example, you could use this feature to publish exclusive content for your paying listeners. 

Disadvantages of Simplecast

Does not support video podcasting 

Simplecast does not currently support video podcasts. This means that if you’re a committed video podcaster, Simplecast won’t offer you what you’re looking for. And if, in the future, you’re looking to venture into video podcasting, you may have to switch hosting platforms

Lossless file formats are automatically transcoded

Even if you upload an .m4a or .wav file to Simplecast, it will be automatically transcoded to mp3

Simple set of features 

Though the features Simplecast does have are extremely powerful, they fulfill a very focused purpose: hosting, publishing, and managing your podcast. Without the ability to edit or monetize directly through Simplecast, some podcasters may feel they can get more for their money elsewhere. 

Cannot monetize directly through Simplecast 

As we mentioned above, the lack of monetization functionality is a slight letdown. Especially since similar competitor platforms do offer fairly substantial monetization capabilities. Only professional and enterprise plans currently have access to Simplecast’s MAE dynamic audio suite. 

Download limits 

The download limits may represent a major con for bigger podcasters or shows that are on an accelerated growth trajectory. 

More expensive 

With the most basic subscription beginning at $15/month, Simplecast isn’t the most affordable option out there. Additionally, if you’ve got more than one show on the go and want to manage them all from Simplecast, you’ll wind up with a hefty monthly bill. 

Key features of Simplecast 

Recast 

As we briefly mentioned earlier, Recast is Simplecast social media and discovery tool. It makes it easy to create snippets of audio (accompanied by a visual element) that are perfect for sharing on social media. 

Your listeners can make Recast videos straight from your embeddable media players, but you can also do so straight from your Simplecast account. You can choose the specific audio clip, add an image or cover art, download and use it to promote your new episode. 

Intelligent web player

As we mentioned, there are three types of Simplecast media player that are available on different plans: 

Standard Simplecast Audio Player 

Available on all Simplecast subscriptions, this is a mobile-friendly and responsive media player. It includes a share and subscribe button, and allows listeners to toggle the playback speed. It also works with Recast, so your audience can click anywhere to create one. 

Simplecast Mini Player 

The Simplecast Mini player is available on the Essential plan and above. It works well for sharing private episodes because there is no share or subscribe button (by default). 

Simplecast Show Player 

Also available on the Essential Plan and above, this displays all of your published episodes. It’s a dynamic media player, so it automatically updates with your newest episodes. There is a landscape and a portrait option, so you can choose which one fits in best with your website. 

All of the above are customizable (when you’re using the iFrame Embed Code), so you can choose between the Light and Dark themes and even customize the color to match your brand. 

Simplecast’s embeddable media players also feedback key listener analytics, so you can gain insights into your streams, starts, retention rate, share points, drop offs and average listening time. 

Simplecast 2.0 API

As we saw above, the Growth plan and above get access to API publishing. Simplecast’s API makes it possible to build your very own podcasting experience. You can build out your own website, uploading tool, listening app, and even your own analytics dashboard. The world is your oyster. 

Simplecast is Best for Podcasters obsessed with data and analytics 

If you’re on the market for a focused podcasting tool that values data and analytics, Simplecast is for you. It’s a powerful platform that will streamline your distribution and management processes. And the high-power analytics and audience insights are ideal for podcasters looking to really understand their podcast’s performance. 

How to get started with Simplecast 

How to add a new episode to Simplecast

Step 1: Once you’ve recorded your podcast episode and you’re ready to publish, go to your dashboard and click ‘add episode’ in the top right corner. 

The Add episode button on Simplecast
(Image source: Simplecast)

Step 2: As prompted, fill out all your episode’s details including its title, its slug, episode type, season and episode number, and upload the audio file. Also insert the episode summary and notes. 

Step 3: Upload the episode art and any keywords that you want to tag your episode with. 

Filling in podcast details on Simplecast
(Image source: Simplecast)

Step 4: Once you’ve done that, choose whether this is a ‘private episode’ or not. You can also upload a separate ‘recast art’ cover if you want your Recast image to be different from the cover art. 

Additional podcast options on Simplecast including privacy settings and recast art
(Image source: Simplecast)

Step 5: Click ‘save draft’. You’ll be automatically taken to the ‘Episode Promotion Page’ where you can choose to publish the episode immediately or at a later time or date. 

The Save Draft button on Simplecast
(Image source: Simplecast)

Step 6: To schedule an episode to be published at a later date, click ‘schedule’ then choose the data and time. Then click the now green ‘schedule’ button and ‘yes’ to confirm. 

Scheduling a podcast on Simplecast
(Image source: Simplecast)

Step 7: To publish your episode straight away, click the drop down menu and select ‘Publish’ 

Publishing a podcast on Simplecast
(Image source: Simplecast)

Step 8: Then click the now green ‘publish’ button and confirm ‘yes’ 

How to distribute your podcast with Simplecast 

Once you’ve set up your podcast on Simplecast, you’ll need to manually submit your show’s RSS feed to each platform that you want to publish to. Once you’ve been approved, you’ll be able to automatically distribute your show.  

How to migrate your podcast to Simplecast 

Step 1: Create your account, then click ‘create new show’

Step 2: Click ‘import existing show’, then manually search for your show or copy and paste your RSS feed URL 

Step 3: You’ll then need to confirm that you’re the genuine owner of the show. You’ll see a verification email in the inbox of the email associated with your podcast’s RSS feed 

Step 4: Once imported, you’ll need to redirect your old RSS feed 

Step 5: The redirect process looks a little different depending on your current podcast host, so make sure to follow the specific instructions for your platform. 

Simplecast analytics 

Simplecast is made for podcasters who love their data. Whatever your subscription plan, you’ll get access to in-depth, powerful insights about your podcast and audience. 

All Simplecast plans have access to analytics through the Overview section of the Audience page. Here you’ll find:

  • All-time total downloads
  • Downloads today / in the last 7 days / Previous 7 days
  • Unique listeners for the last 7 days 
  • Downloads by location (interactive heatmap) 
  • Popular times of day 
  • Top episodes and listening methods 

More detailed audience insights can be found on the Audience page, which is available to Essential and Growth plan subscribers: 

  • Location 
  • Web players (retention and play throughs) 
  • Device types 
  • Network type 

Simplecast vs other podcast hosting platforms 

Simplecast v Anchor 

Anchor and Simplecast fundamentally aim to provide podcasters with different things. Anchor is democratizing the entire podcasting process: creation, distribution management, and monetization. It’s a one-stop-shop available for free. 

By contrast, Simplecast is a powerful platform for hosting, distributing and managing your podcast. Though perhaps not directly comparable, Anchor is the best option for podcasters who are looking for an affordable and convenient podcast hosting platform. It’s worth bearing though in mind that just because Anchor does everything, doesn’t mean it performs the best at each stage. 

Simplecast caters well to podcasters who are seeking a high-powered tool that offers seriously focused functionality and will help them manage their podcast. All-in-all, however, given that Anchor offers its services for free, it’s most definitely the better option for value for money. 

Simplecast v Buzzsprout  

Simplecast and Buzzsprout are extremely similar in that they both exist to help you host, promote and monitor your podcast. Just as with Simplecast, Buzzsprout gives you a customizable media player, helps you migrate your show easily, and distributes your content in one-click. Since the features are fairly similar, if you’re choosing between them, it’s probably a matter of personal preference. 

The biggest difference, though, is the upload limit. Buzzsprout’s most affordable pricing plan at $12/month comes with a 3 hour upload limit per month. This could be a serious constraint for podcasters who like to upload frequently. 

Simplecast v Soundcloud  

Simplecast was built specifically with podcasters in mind. By this measure, it will always win out against Soundcloud which is aimed at all kinds of creators. 

The specific benefit of using Soundcloud is that it is in itself a social networking platform and discovery tool, so in this sense, it could be hugely beneficial to your podcast’s visibility. However, since it’s not built for podcasters, you’ll run into trouble when trying to migrate your podcast to Soundcloud, for example. The process is not automated, so if you want all your previous episodes on Soundcloud, you’ll have to manually import each one. 

In addition, with the upload limits starting at 3 hours, podcasters who produce a lot of content will feel restricted. 

Simplecast v Podbean  

Similar to Anchor, Podbean pitches itself as a one-stop shop for podcasting. Unlike Simplecast, you’re able to create, promote and monetize your show directly from Podbean. 

Podbean’s most basic subscription tier is $9/month, for which you get very similar functionality, as well as a personalized podcast app and access to monetization features. The ability to create and monetize your podcast directly from your podcast hosting platform can save you a lot of trouble, and means you can manage all aspects of your podcasting business from one place. 

When compared to Podbean, Simplecast’s functionality could seem too narrow to be worth it. 

Final thoughts on Simplecast  

Objectively speaking, Simplecast is a powerful platform. It lives up to its name and does simplify the hosting, distribution, and management of your podcast. The detailed analytics and insights are also a level above what most other podcast hosting platforms have on offer. However, when looking at Simplecast holistically, its functionality feels a little lackluster when compared to other competitor platforms. Whilst Simplecast is on the more expensive end of podcast hosting platforms, its features are comparatively limited. Especially noticeable is the lack of monetization options. To sum up, if you’re looking for in-depth and detailed data, Simplecast definitely has you covered. However, if you’re on a tighter budget, or looking for a podcast hosting platform that will do more than simply host and distribute your podcast, you’re probably better placed looking elsewhere. 

FAQs about Simplecast 

Does Simplecast cost money? 

Yes, the most affordable plan begins at $15/month. 

What is Simplecast? 

It’s a podcast hosting, distribution and management tool. 

Can you record a podcast with Simplecast? 

No you can’t. If you want to host your podcast on Simplecast you need to record your podcast audio first, then upload the recording to the platform. 

Where does Simplecast publish? 

To all the major listening platforms or wherever else your audience tunes in to your content.

Want to read more on podcast hosting platforms? Check out our other reviews:

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