Castos Review: Premium Content, Transcriptions & a Simple Podcast Plugin
With a simple Wordpress plugin, premium content, and transcription services, Castos might be your new media host BFF.
Choosing a podcast media host is essentially choosing a home for your podcast. You want your podcast to live in a nice house with a south-facing garden, and eat its five a day.
At The Podcast Host we make it our business to review and keep up-to-date with all the big podcast hosting options out there. We don't want your show to end up living in a cold, damp apartment with a broken toilet.
This time around, we're taking a look at Castos. Is this somewhere your podcast can live a long and happy life? Read on and find out.
Who is Castos?
If you've ever used WordPress and seen the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin, then you've met Castos. They own this plugin, which is used by many WordPress content creators.
Castos offers what they call Premium Podcasting, to monetize your podcast via subscription. They offer automatic podcast transcriptions (in English). Castos can put your podcast on YouTube. They show download stats with more detail than typically available at this price point. Storage is unlimited, and doesn't charge extra.
How Much is Castos?
Castos' pricing tiers are:
- Podcasting without republishing for $19/month
- Podcasting with republishing on YouTube for $34/month
- Video Podcasting for $49/month
Again, all of these tiers offer unlimited storage, which I found pleasantly surprising!
To get down to the nitty gritty of these tiers:
The basic tier allows you to podcast without additional features. Just you and your podcast, nothing extra.
The next offers republishing to YouTube (with your sound, and your art as a static image. Make sure you have great podcast art). For some people this seems counterintuitive, for others, it's an important consideration. You only have to set up the syndication once. After that, Castos automatically publishes it to YouTube for you. Easy peasy.
The third level is for people who record their podcast natively in a video environment.
Purchasing a year in advance has its benefits: the first two months are free in this contract.
What Analytics Does Castos Offer?
At this price point, Castos shows all of the stats that you could possibly want. They can display:
- Geographic data
- Spotify analytics
- Listens by device type, app, OS and/or browser
Some podcast hosts can offer analytics that are this detailed without charging you extra. Others might charge an additional fee, or require a higher tier.
Castos' WordPress plugin, Seriously Simple Podcasting, helps the podcast producer to drive traffic to their web site's built-in player.
This is great for folks who want to control everything from inside their WordPress dashboard, but still make use of a dedicated media host to take care of their podcast.
The player is minimalist (others exist), though you can change the colors. This is great if you want to drive traffic directly to your website, and your listeners aren't loyal to a particular listening app. This plug-in has add-on modules which help podcasters embed data such as transcripts or guest information, for no additional cost. In response to customer requests, they've recently rolled out customizable subscribe buttons.
Monetization & Private Podcasting
With Castos, you can share your podcast privately, via a subscription system. Castos creates a unique RSS feed for each Premium subscriber, only for premium content. You decide how much to charge these subscribers and Castos keeps 20% of that price.
Patreon will let you create a Patreon-only RSS feed, but only one for all patrons, not individual feeds. If you're podcasting for a private audience (such as employees of your company), and you need to track their download information specifically, this is a great feature.
As we've said before, transcriptions are a great way to expand your audience. Castos offers this as a pay-as-you go feature. Craig Hewitt, the company fonder and CEO, explained, “We evaluated a LOT of technology partners for our transcription service, and ultimately settled on using Rev.AI for this. The Rev team has created a really great engine.”
Transcription has an additional fee, ten cents per audio minute. Considering the demand for transcripts, and how they help a podcast's SEO ranking, this is probably worth it to you. If you're making a scripted audio fiction podcast, you might not need this.
Media files & bitrate
So, do they make any changes to your MP3?
We firmly believe that the file that you upload should be exactly the same file that your audience listens to. We don't modify the metadata, bitrate, or file format of your podcast files when (or after) they're uploaded to our platform.”
For multi-layered productions, this is terrific.
Castos offers unlimited storage for no additional cost, monetized individual RSS feeds, and automatic transcription. They don't change the bitrate of your files, which is great for multi-layered sound design. The download statistics are detailed and useful. All of these are excellent things to have.
Most importantly, their Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin makes it ridiculously easy to publish your podcast every week. The workflow is reduced to: create WordPress post, upload audio to WordPress post, publish! No need to log into your media host at all. Do you fancy a world where you never have to handle an embed code ever again?
In terms of price, it's more expensive than some, but it's unlimited at that cost, and won't change your bitrate. It's less expensive than Libsyn, for example, when you bear in mind their extra charge for geographic statistics and the extra storage.
If you’re making a podcast for a specifically limited audience, such as sending training materials to employees and you want to do this via a podcast, this would be great. Or, let's say you already have a dedicated audience that you know will pay for your podcast via a subscription model; Castos would be a good fit. Castos lets you focus on your content. This is great if your podcast is part of an existing business that needs more attention.
Still want to shop around for podcast hosting? Check out of roundup of the best media hosting services around.
Need More Help?
The more you know about how to produce, publish and distribute your podcast, the more your podcast will have your unique mark. It's good to have a service you can trust, but it's also good to build skills.
That's why we'd love to work with you in The Podcast Academy. There, you'll benefit from courses, downloadable materials, videos, and a community of support from peers and professionals!