Podcast Blog

What Is a Podcast Network? [2024]

Joining a podcast network can help grow and monetize your show. But is it the right option for your brand?


Microphone and headphones on a desk in an office, recording a podcast for a podcast network

Wondery. Gimlet Media. Radiotopia. Earwolf.

While these podcast networks only accept the top 1% of shows in their midst, there are many other podcast networks out there that are willing to work with podcasters (across all industries and categories) who have yet to reach that kind of popularity.

Podcast networks can be a valuable resource for podcasters, giving even independent creators the opportunity to boost their revenue and listenership. However, while having the backing of a network can sound good on paper, that doesn't mean it's the right approach for every podcast.

So, what is a podcast network? How do they work? And is joining one right for your podcast? If you've been thinking about joining a network, keep reading.

What is a podcast network? Logos of podcast networks: Radiotopia, Gimlet, Midroll, Wondery, Podcast Stone and Earwolf

What Is a Podcast Network?

A podcast network is a group or collection of podcasts that are produced, distributed, or made available to advertisers under one umbrella company. The podcasts within a network are typically connected by similar themes or audiences: comedy shows, true crime, interviews or narrative-style podcasts. However, there are some that are more flexible in who they work with.

A network's primary role is to serve as an intermediary. Once you join a podcast network, they will either help promote your show on other podcasts in their stable or support your digital marketing efforts and connect you with sponsors for your show. This can free you up to focus on creating content rather than having to source advertisers yourself.

With many top brands increasing their marketing budgets to invest in podcast advertising, podcast networks can be a lucrative income source for individual creators looking to monetize their show.

Podcast Networks: How They Work

In the late nineties and early 2000s, podcasts had a serious discoverability problem. Unlike today, podcasts weren't that mainstream. Directories didn't exist and search engines lacked the capability to crawl and categorize audio content.

Podcast networks were developed to solve these problems and help these previously unfindable podcasts market their shows in order to raise their visibility and increase their capacity to grow their revenue.

Before you join a podcast network, it's worth noting that it comes at a cost. There are also strict entry requirements to consider. Most networks want to work with podcasts that already have some influence, so they can earn maximum revenue.

While it varies from network to network, the typical requirements usually include:

  • Ad revenue sharing: The standard commission is 30% or a 70/30 split

  • Frequency: At least one episode each week

  • Downloads: Typically 1,000 per episode or 5,000 per month (larger networks often have higher requirements)

  • Cross-promotion: Agreeing to promote other shows within the network

Networks tend to favour podcasts with 25,000 or more listeners. Top podcast networks in particular are generally only open to negotiating if shows have at least 50,000 listeners per episode. For the top-tier podcasts receiving thousands of downloads, a different onboarding and agreement process may be required.

Additional Requirements

Not all networks are the same, but there is some general information that each podcast network needs. Depending on the network, they will ask you to provide the following in order to create your listing and present it to potential advertisers:

  • Podcast title

  • Show category (technology, science, true crime, etc.)

  • Podcast description

  • Average number of downloads per episode

  • Date when the first episode was published

  • Publishing frequency

  • Link to an episode

  • Type of ad spots to sell

  • Desired pricing

Podcast Networks: Pros

Before you start approaching networks, it's a good idea to look at how joining a podcast network will benefit your show. Although each network operates differently, most of them offer similar benefits. (Although they won't necessarily all be included in your network deal.)

1. Increased Marketing and Exposure

Most podcasters want to increase their listener base. Podcast networks have the marketing tools and services that can help a show gain exposure and reach new, loyal listeners quickly and effectively.

Networks can do this by cross-promoting a podcast across other network members to share listeners between audiences. This arrangement is ideal for podcasts that don't have the time or know-how to market their own show.

2. Earn Ad Revenue

It’s a well known fact that ads read by a podcast host perform better than third-party ads. As a result, more and more businesses and brands are turning to podcast networks to reach their target audiences. The beautiful thing about this is that networks essentially act as agents, negotiating advertising deals for the lucky podcasters within their fold.

What does that ad revenue look like? Podcast ads are usually charged at a flat rate per 1,000 impressions, known as CPM or "cost per mille". What that flat rate is will depend on a variety of factors, such as the theme or industry, content quality, frequency of release, etc.

Another point to consider is where in the show the ad will be. Typically, advertisers will pay:

  • $6-20 CPM for pre-roll ads: This ad placement is before the actual episode starts and is usually 20-30 seconds in length.

  • $11-25 CPM for mid-roll ads: This ad placement is in the middle of the episode and is usually 60 seconds in length.

  • $4-15 CPM for post-roll ads: This is at the end of the episode and usually 10-20 seconds in length.

As your listenership grows, so will your income. Before you know it, you'll be able to reinvest those earnings back into the show, helping it to grow even faster.

3. Production Support

Most podcasts don't have the luxury of a large production team helping them refine their show to perfection every week. Sometimes we need a little help. While not all podcast networks offer production support, there are plenty that do.

Networks want you to produce an amazing end product, so they may offer production and editing coaching along with other services to help you create the best show possible.

4. Credibility by Association

Establishing credibility can be difficult for smaller podcasts. Associating yourself with other high quality shows within a podcast network's pool will help you gain the sterling reputation you deserve.

Trust plays a big role in building an audience and that's precisely what a network can help with. People will often automatically assume your show has value if you are associated with a network of other quality, popular and trusted brands.

For example, those who like NPR’s This American Life will often tune into other lesser-known shows under NPR's network umbrella. Audiences trust the NPR brand; they trust the network.

Being part of a recognized podcast network, especially one that fits your genre or industry, gives your show a considerable boost in authority.

5. Networking Possibilities

Ever wanted to get access to the VIP lounge? Well, joining a podcast network is like getting in with an exclusive club for podcasters. You can meet experienced and successful people in the industry, build a network of connections, get advice from successful podcasters and even find guests for your show.

Podcast Networks: Cons

Before you go ahead and join a podcast network, let’s first address some of the potential pitfalls associated with podcast networks.

1. Creative Control

Signing up with a podcastnetwork often means agreeing to their restrictions, which are usually influenced by associated ad firms. This means that a network reserves the right to veto some of your podcast content and even request revisions.

Networks can also reserve the right to prevent you from talking about certain topics or criticising other shows within their network. In addition, some podcast networks won’t give you the option to decide which sponsors you advertise for, meaning you could end up running an ad for a sponsor that isn't a good fit for your brand.

These requirements will be outlined in the contract, so make sure you read it carefully before signing.

2. Change In Hosting Site

Not all networks are compatible with all hosting sites (Buzzsprout, Captivate, Transistor, Podbean, etc.) and may require you to use their preferred host site instead. This entails moving all your content across, which can be both time-consuming and a bit of a headache.

There’s also the possibility that you’ll run into unexpected issues during the switch that can make the transition a bumpy one. This can include loss of data, files, audio and other content.

3. The Podcast Network Takes a Percentage

Podcast networks need to generate profit (they are businesses, after all), which means they will require a cut of any ad revenue you generate. On average, this is around 30%. However, as your show grows, so too will the percentage they take.

Eventually, some podcasts find it necessary to leave their networks because they can negotiate premium ad prices on their own.

There's also the issue of trust. When you first join a podcast network, your fees may be higher than that of other, more established podcasts. This is because a network needs to get to know you and trust that you will fulfil the contract.

Young guy thinking about whether or not to join a podcast network
Weigh up the pros and cons before deciding if you should join a podcast network.

Getting Your Show on a Podcast Network

Podcast networks are geared towards attracting those big shows that already have a dedicated audience and some influence. It's a simple equation, really. Well-known and popular shows can bring in high-end ad revenue.

Does that mean the smaller shows shouldn’t bother joining a network? Absolutely not. It may be harder to get a good deal with a network until your listener base increases, but if you look hard enough you'll find that some of the big podcast networks do actually want to invest their resources in smaller, up-and-coming podcasts.

Find the Best Network For Your Podcast

Joining a podcast network needs to benefit you in as many ways as possible. To have the best chance of success, look for a network that hosts other podcasts in a similar vein to yours.

For example, Enterprise Podcast Network is a great fit for entrepreneurs and enterprise podcasts. If you’re a tutor or teacher, Education Podcast Network could work well for you. BizCast is the ideal podcast network for businesses and organisations.

Chartable is an excellent resource for filtering through the networks that could be a good match for your show. Doing a simple Google search can also yield some great results. Just search for "podcast network" + [your genre] and see what comes up.

You can find similar shows on podcast directories and check whether they're signed up to a network in their description, cover art, or episode intros. If you find a podcast network you deem to be a perfect fit for you, make sure to research them thoroughly before moving ahead.

Top Podcast Networks

We'll be the first to admit that there are hundreds of networks to choose from, but we thought we'd give you a rundown of the top podcast networks around today. Note: most of them only accept shows that receive in the region of 50,000 downloads per episode.

✔Gimlet Media

✔Kast media






✔National Public Radio (NPR)



Final Thoughts

Podcast networks are designed to solve the big problems podcasters face regarding marketing and cross-promotion. In addition to the many other benefits it offers, joining a network can be a great way to monetize your podcast. It's not for everyone, however.

There are several factors to bear in mind when deciding to join a podcast network is the right strategy for your show. In the end it comes down to the million dollar question:

Would joining a podcast network positively benefit your podcast?

Keep in mind, however, that joining your preferred network doesn’t necessarily guarantee that your show will become an overnight success or bring in a wealth of revenue.

Before you start approaching podcast networks, focus on creating the most valuable content possible and strive to grow your audience. By doing so, you'll be more desirable and have some leverage when it comes to negotiating a deal with the network of your choice.

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    Claire Gould


    Claire Gould

    Hi I'm Claire, a Hobbit-like person who loves wandering the countryside with her dog and listening to heavy metal and podcasts of all genres!