What is a Podcast Network? (And Should You Join?)

What is a podcast network

Many of the world’s most successful podcasts are part of a podcast network.

These networks often have a reputation for quality and consistency that can be leveraged to attract a larger audience, brand partnerships and advertisers.

Being part of a well-known network can give a podcast instant credibility and exposure, making it easier to attract high-caliber guests and, ultimately, listeners!

But what exactly is a podcast network?

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about podcast networks – and list the pros and cons of signing up!

Table of Contents

What is a Podcast Network?

A podcast network is a company or organization that serves a collection of podcasts under one brand.

The network will provide these ‘member’ podcasts with resources and support for content creation, distribution and advertising.

For example, the popular ‘Stuff You Should Know’ podcast, hosted by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant, is part of the iHeartRadio network.

Being a part of the iHeartRadio network gives ‘Stuff You Should Know’ access to a robust infrastructure for advertising and distribution, as well as promotional opportunities across other iHeartRadio podcasts and platforms.

The network’s reach and resources have helped ‘Stuff You Should Know’ become one of the most popular and long-stranding podcasts in existence.

What is a Podcast Network? Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant
Josh Clark (left) and Chuck Bryant (right) from the ‘Stuff You Should Know’ Podcast, which is part of the iHeartRadio network.

Beyond business aspects, joining such a network also means becoming part of a unique community fostering creativity and exchange among its members.

Each podcast within this group retains its unique identity while contributing to the overall diversity and richness of the collective network experience.

Benefits of joining a Podcast Network

Joining a podcast network offers various perks that can propel your podcast to success.

One significant advantage is the opportunity for monetization. By joining forces with a network, you become a part of an established platform with access to sponsorship deals and steady ad revenue streams.

A podcast network also enhances visibility by connecting you to their existing listenership base, which often spans wider than your current audience reach. With this kind of exposure, audience growth generally happens faster.

Beyond increased visibility, being under a reputable podcast network banner helps boost credibility in your niche. It serves as an endorsement and indicates that you offer content worth listening to.

Ad-based and ad-free podcast networks

Podcast networks operate through different models, which include both ad-based and ad-free. The difference between the two types can be defined in the following table:

Ad-based Podcast Networks Ad-free Podcast Networks
When joining an ad-based network, podcasters open their ad space for potential advertisers.Ad-free networks allows creators to take care of their own advertising.
Ad-base networks turn a profit from the ads placed in their podcasts.Ad-free networs usually just offer a platform for networking opportunities and marketing advantages.
These typs of networks can serve as a bustling marketplace where advertisers link with a range of shows and audiences.Joining an ad-free network ensures the podcaster receives 100% of all advertising revenue.

Requirements for joining a Podcast Network

Joining a podcast network comes with some obligations.

Your podcast will need to meet the standards set by the network to ensure your product aligns with their goals.

Here are some common requirements you may encounter when joining a podcast network:

  1. Minimum download threshold: Most networks require your podcast to have a minimum number of downloads per episode or month. (This threshold is usually around 5,000 downloads per month.)
  2. Frequency of episode release: To be eligible for many podcast networks, you must release new episodes regularly. Releasing at least one episode per week is often required.
  3. Recording methods: Some networks may have specific requirements for how you record your podcast. That could include using professional-grade equipment or following certain technical guidelines.
  4. Editing methods: Similarly, networks may expect a certain level of editing quality for your episodes. They may require that your episodes are well-produced and edited before being released.
  5. Production methods: In addition to recording and editing, some networks may have specific production expectations. That could involve incorporating music or sound effects into your episodes or adhering to their formatting guidelines.

Pros and Cons of Joining a Podcast Network

Joining a podcast network has numerous advantages, such as increased exposure, shared resources, branding opportunities, and community among fellow podcasters.

However, it also comes with potential drawbacks like loss of creative control, revenue sharing agreements, competition within the network, and the commitment and ownership concerns that come with being part of a larger entity.

Advantages of Joining a Podcast Network

Joining a podcast network can offer several advantages that can benefit your podcast. These advantages include:

  1. Increased exposure: Being part of a podcast network can help increase the visibility of your podcast. By joining forces with other podcasts in the network, you can reach a wider audience and attract more listeners.
  2. Shared resources: Podcast networks often provide access to shared resources that can help monetize your podcast. That may include advertising opportunities, sponsorships, or partnerships that can generate revenue for your show.
  3. Branding opportunities: Joining a podcast network can enhance your branding efforts. The network’s reputation and credibility can add value to your podcast, attracting potential sponsors and boosting your brand image.
  4. Supportive community: Podcast networks foster a sense of community among its members. You’ll have the chance to connect with fellow podcasters, exchange ideas, collaborate on projects, and provide mutual support along your podcasting journey.
  5. Collective expertise: By joining a podcast network, you gain access to a pool of knowledge and expertise from other experienced hosts. That allows for idea exchange, learning from others’ successes and failures, and continuous improvement of your own content.

Potential drawbacks of joining a Podcast Network

Joining a podcast network can have its drawbacks. Here are some potential downsides to consider:

  1. Loss of creative control: When joining a podcast network, you may have to compromise on your creative freedom. Network guidelines and expectations might limit your ability to explore certain topics or experiment with different formats.
  2. Revenue sharing obligations: Podcast networks often require podcasters to share a portion of their revenue with the network. That means your earnings might get impacted, and you may have less financial independence compared to running your show.
  3. Increased competition: Being part of a podcast network means sharing the spotlight with other podcasts in the same network. That can increase competition for listeners’ attention, making it harder to stand out and grow your audience.
  4. Limited ownership rights: Joining a podcast network may require giving up some degree of ownership over your content and brand. It can limit your decision-making power and control over the direction of your podcast.
  5. Contractual commitment and restrictions: When you join a podcast network, you typically sign a contract that outlines the terms of your involvement. This commitment may limit your flexibility in exploring other opportunities or changing up your show.

Should You Join a Podcast Network?

Joining a podcast network can be a fantastic opportunity for podcasters looking to promote and grow their show. By joining a network, you can tap into the resources, support, and guidance provided by the network to improve your podcasting skills.

Additionally, being part of a network may increase your chances of getting sponsorship deals and attracting advertisers, as networks often have established relationships in these areas.

However, you’ll want to consider whether joining a podcast network aligns with your goals and needs as a podcaster. While there are benefits such as increased exposure and shared resources, joining a network may also mean giving up some creative control and sharing revenue with the network.

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