Podcast networks are a really interesting part of the podcasting world. Networks can aggregate several separate shows (either hosted by the same hosts or different ones). We love comparing it to a TV channel that broadcasts dozens of different “Series”, but in podcasting terms you have particular “Shows” and sometimes also podcast networks that act as aggregators.
Are you looking to grow your listenership and unlock more podcast revenue? You might lack the know-how to do this organically, or maybe you’d rather focus your time and energy on creating quality content for your show.
Fortunately, podcast networks offer a convenient way to monetize and market your show in exchange for a cut of the profits. You can join small podcast networks with very few requirements. Alternatively, you can retain complete control of your show by creating your own.
In this post, we’ll introduce you to podcast networks and explore the main benefits and drawbacks of joining one. Then, we’ll show you how you can easily start your own podcast network. Let’s get started!
An Introduction to Podcast Networks (And How They Work)
Podcast networks are umbrella “entities” that you can join in exchange for certain benefits like advertising. They help market and monetize your podcast, enabling you to focus on creating quality content. Besides joining existing networks, you can easily create your own – assuming you have more than one podcast show published, you can rack them up under the same brand.
Some networks stick to specific genres or podcast topics such as true crime or entertainment. For example, Earwolf originally focused on comedy podcasts and Idle Thumbs concentrates on video game culture:
To join an established podcast network, there are certain requirements you’ll need to meet. Top podcast networks typically consider shows with at least 50,000 downloads per month.
However, small networks like Gonnageek only ask for one aired episode, a set release date, and a custom domain name. When choosing a podcast network, it’s important to consider its size, creative restrictions, and how much revenue it’ll take.
Once you join a podcast network, it will often take care of marketing, promotion, and monetization for you. This includes finding paid advertisement opportunities and sponsorships.
Typically, the network keeps 30 percent of any profits your podcast generates. That leaves the remaining 70 percent in your pocket. They take part in promoting and distributing your podcast, and at times get your costs cover, so it can be great for certain podcasters.
Therefore, podcast networks are an excellent option if you can afford to lose a slice of the profits in exchange for the ease and convenience of finding advertisers. You’ll also be able to take advantage of cross-promotional opportunities with other podcasts in your network to boost your listenership.
The Pros and Cons of Joining a Podcast Network
Now that you know what a podcast network is and how they operate, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of joining one.
The Benefits of Joining a Podcast Network
As an independent podcaster, it can be challenging to find sponsors. It can also take a long time to establish yourself as a quality creator. Fortunately, when you join a podcast network you can speed up the process, accessing tons of benefits, such as:
- Increased exposure and credibility. Joining a network that features quality shows can increase the perceived value of your own. By aligning yourself with reputable shows and trustworthy sponsors, your content can also gain credibility. Plus, the cross-promotional opportunities may get you featured on podcast shows with a larger audience, which can boost your show’s visibility.
- Professional help with production and marketing. This can range from advice from seasoned podcasters to stellar editing and research services. Some networks also have marketing assets and coaching to help you grow your podcast. Podcast networks can really help you throughout the entire process of planning, recording, publishing and growing your show. Some can even create a unique Podcast Website for your own show.
- Learn from podcasting veterans. Many networks are managed by people who’ve been involved in the podcasting world for a while. It’s always great to learn from experts in podcasting, and you can often meet new fellow podcasters who are also part of the network.
- Better partnerships. When you’re part of an exclusive club for podcasters, it’s much easier to reach out and collaborate with other successful creators. Plus, they can offer partnerships with complementary industries, such as publishing houses or production companies.
- More revenue and access to Venture Capital (VC) funding. You can unlock revenue earlier and benefit from VC funding. Networks can then use this funding to support and expand your podcast. For example, they might provide you with dedicated producers, editing software, or use paid search and social media advertisements to drive more traffic to your show.
For some podcasters, the benefits of joining a network are so attractive that the decision is easy. They offer a hassle-free way to obtain quality marketing and quick monetization for your show.
The Drawbacks of Joining a Podcast Network
Although there are plenty of advantages to joining a podcast network, it may not be the best option for all podcasters. For some, the benefits may not be worth the sacrifices. Let’s take a look at some of the major drawbacks:
- Contract obligations. When you sign an official agreement, you may be expected to comply with certain requirements, such as publishing an episode every week for a year. This can be a big commitment. You might also need to switch to the network’s podcast hosting service and participate in network activities and events.
- Profit sharing. Although 30 percent might seem small, when your show grows, this figure can become substantial. As such, it’s quite common for podcasters to leave networks once they gain enough popularity. Also, as a new member, you may be required to pay a larger fee than others until the network trusts you enough to fulfill your end of the contract.
- Loss of creative control. Some networks don’t allow you to criticize another show on the network, while others can give a list of topics that you aren’t allowed to mention. Plus, when it comes to sponsors, you’ll have no say. This means you may run ads for companies you don’t like or agree with. In fact, networks can often veto any of your content that fails to align with their brand.
For these reasons, joining a podcast network isn’t the best option for every podcaster. It’s important to weigh whether you can afford to lose out on 30 percent of the revenue and if you’re willing to compromise on creativity.
How to Start Your Own Podcast Network
If you decide that joining a pre-existing podcast network isn’t the right choice for your show, you might consider starting your own. This is an excellent way to maintain complete creative control over your content and keep all the revenue for yourself.
With Podcastpage, you can create a full website for your podcast network with ease. You don’t have to worry about importing a bunch of episodes or syncing your feeds manually – it’s all automated and done for you. That’s because our websites are designed to support multiple podcasts right out of the box. Each show is featured on an individual page with all of its episodes displayed clearly:
Better yet, it’s free and simple to get up and running with Podcastpage, and it requires no coding experience whatsoever. You can easily list all your episodes from mixed podcasts (with easy filtering buttons), you can list all your podcasts/shows, or even the show hosts/guests that are part of your network. Our tool works well with all podcast hosts, and our websites feature built-in optimization for search engines and social sharing. This can help your show get discovered by new listeners:
Furthermore, starting your own podcast network with Podcastpage is an excellent choice if you prefer to invest the bulk of your time and effort into creating content. We speed up your workflows by automatically importing show notes, artwork, audio, transcripts, and more.
With Podcastpage, not only you can create audio-only podcast networks, you can even create networks of video channels (like YouTube video channels) , or mix both video channels and podcast shows – we support both mediums so it’s really up to you.
Creating your own podcast network with Podcastpage is just a couple of clicks away – you don’t need to be a coding guru, or have any type of technical background. You can just create your account, add your first site, and connect a couple (or more) podcasts. This will take you less than 5 minutes and you’ll already have a whole podcast network website in front of your eyes.
Once you connect separate podcast feeds, we can take care of all the heavy lifting, syncing the website with all your podcasts automatically, displaying them around the website, creating dedicated pages for different shows and each episode, optimizing SEO etc.
Next, you can add filters to jump between podcasts easily and utilize our customizable audio player. Finally, you can connect your unique URL with our platform and integrate your new website with popular podcasting tools like Zapier and Podchaser.
You can then preview your site by clicking on Visit Site in the top right corner. Once it’s complete, your podcast network website can help you gain more revenue through advertising and secure greater funding opportunities.
Examples of Top Podcast Networks
Now let’s take a look at four of the leading podcast networks to give you some inspiration.
1. Gimlet Media
As a division of Spotify, Gimlet Media specializes in audio journalism and entertainment. It raised its initial capital from investment firms while listeners raised the last of the money through equity crowdfunding.
In 2015, Gimlet offered its listeners the option to pay for memberships in order to diversify revenue streams beyond advertising. This shift is one of the major contributors to its success. Gimlet also continued raising money for shows after they had already aired, which increased its fundraising opportunities from investors who listened to the shows.
This podcast network has also created a unique bond with its listeners, which has helped build brand loyalty. Since Gimlet operates on a philosophy of transparency and honesty, fans are often heavily invested in shows and podcasters. As a result, they’re more likely to trust recommendations for other in-network shows.
Gimlet’s content spans multiple genres and caters to a wide audience. For example, some of the most popular shows include the award-winning Story Pirates, Science Vs, and Reply All, a story-telling podcast about modern life and how to survive it.
Backed by 20th Century Fox, Wondery is owned by Amazon Music and was founded in 2016 when podcasts were becoming more accessible. By 2017, Wondery had partnered with the Los Angeles Times to produce Dirty John, its hit show about the crimes of John Meehan. The success of this show led to the development of more original Wondery podcasts.
Today, Wondery hosts over 70 shows across lots of topics from crime to business and entertainment. It leverages emotional storytelling that resonates with audiences. It also has a knack for producing narratives compelling and interesting enough to be binge-worthy.
Plus, Wondery has cultivated valuable partnerships with the likes of Bloomberg, The Boston Globe, and Universal Music Group. It may be odd to see a partnership between a records label and a podcast or podcast network, but it only makes sense. (see Spotify’s strategic acquisitions and investment in the world of podcasting). As a result, Wondery shows are now able to use certain licensed music in their podcasts.
One of the top shows on the network is Dr Death, which actually began as a tip about a neurosurgeon from a Dirty John listener. Other chart-toppers include WeCrashed, and Even the Rich, which shares stories about some of the greatest family dynasties in history.
Launched in 2013, Radiotopia began as a podcast network hosting innovative, audio storytelling. The platform nurtures its community by championing new talent and fresh voices.
For example, in 2016, Radiotopia ran an open call for outstanding, story-driven podcast ideas. Three finalists were given $10,000 to create three pilot episodes and the winner became part of the network.
One of the network’s aims is to help podcasts become sustainable, offering support, resources, and a launching pad for podcasts to grow. They also encourage producers to become more entrepreneurial, helping them develop their careers in the industry.
For funding, Radiotopia relies on support from grants, sponsors, and listener contributions. This is made possible by podcasters forming unique relationships with their listeners. Radiotopia has produced many hit shows like Blind Guy Travels, A Hit Dog Will Holler, and Adult ISH.
4. Gallery Media Group
The Gallery Media Group network includes a bunch of top-tier podcasts like The GaryVee Audio Experience, The CMO Podcast and others. They use Podcaspage to leverage their network’s reach, and automatically create pages for their shows and episodes.
Their website is super clean, includes a beautiful list of all shows, and within each individual show page, all episodes from that show are listed below the show’s information section.
Podcast networks offer a hassle-free way to market your show and unlock more advertising revenue. Through collaborations with creators and marketers, you get the opportunity to grow your listenership and access perks like advice from seasoned podcasters.
Once you hit the criteria, joining a podcast network is easy. You can easily build and aggregate your own podcast network using Podcastpage. This way, you can maintain complete control over your show and choose which podcasts and sponsors to work with.