Blubrry and Libsyn are two veterans of the media hosting world. If you were in a room full of podcasters then the majority would no doubt host their show on either Libsyn or Blubrry.
They both have a great reputation and offer a fantastic service. But if you've narrowed your hosting choice down to these two, how do you split them?
Firstly, full disclosure. At The Podcast Host we host most of our shows on either Libsyn or Blubrry and are affiliates of both services.
We highly recommend either service to anyone who asks about media hosting, so this article isn't about ‘which is better'. This is about finding the differences between the two, and recommending the right one for your context. That's the real purpose of this article.
Price & Storage
The bottom line here is that Libsyn are slightly cheaper if we were to base it on monthly storage allowance. 250MB of storage at Libsyn is $15 a month, the same amount of storage at Blubrry is $20 a month.
The smallest monthly payment you can make with Libsyn is $5 for 50MB, whilst Blubrry's is $12 for 100MB.
It's worth mentioning however that Blubrry allows a 25% storage overage each month on all their plans as part of their No-Fault Podcast Hosting. You can also replace your files at any time with no storage penalty.
How Much Space Will I Need?
Of course, space is a bit meaningless here – what you want to know is, how much do I need?!
Well, a decent quality minute of audio is just under a single MB in size. That's if you mix your show down at 128kbps. In this instance, a 10min episode would be just under 10MB.
I tend to mix spoken word content lower than 128kbps, and if you're using iTunes or Adobe Audition (rather than Audacity's LAME encoder) to create your MP3s, then you can go as low as 96kbps without any noticeable loss in quality. Many people actually go as low as 64kbps. If you want to read our full coverage of this debate, check out the podcast bit rate article here.
10mins of audio at 96kbps drops below 7MB, so you can cut down on storage (and help save your listener's data plan) by using this bit rate.
The upshot is, a weekly podcast doing 30 minute episodes every week is likely to use around 84MB per month at that rate. But extend much over the half hour mark and you'll be going beyond the 100MB per month plan.
Websites & Publishing
When we get to publishing, there are a couple of differences worth noting. First of all, let’s look at the mechanics of creating your podcast episodes online
Plug-ins for Self-Hosted Podcasting
Firstly, Blubrry stand out for the simple reason that they publish Powerpress – the de-facto king of WordPress podcasting plugins.
Powerpress gives you a huge amount of power to publish a show within your own WordPress website. It ties in with the WordPress editor to allow easy uploading of podcast episodes, never leaving the WordPress space.
Powerpress also comes with a slew of options around controlling your RSS feed, allowing you to work with multiple feeds should you need to have more than one podcast on the one site.
Libsyn is, however, catching up here. They released their own WordPress plugin in 2015 which allows direct uploading to Libsyn servers via the WordPress editor. The plug in is still in Beta, and thus far it doesn't offer half the flexibility that Powerpress does. For example, you can’t set up your own RSS feed, instead relying on a Libsyn.com one.
Libsyn do consider this latter point an advantage though. They can certainly provide a reliable feed that doesn’t eat up your bandwidth – two things that can’t always be said for low-cost, shared web hosting.
Back to plug ins, in both cases you need to install the tool and enter your account details to set up the link, but after that uploading a podcast is a one step process, regardless of which service you use.
Additionally, with Libsyn you can create a post on WordPress directly from the Libsyn side with their On-Publish feature.
Now this assumes that you're publishing the episode on your own self-hosted WordPress website (remember we've got a course on how to self publish on WordPress). But that's not the only option.
Publishing Episodes With Your Media Host
The alternative to running a self-hosted WordPress website is to publish with either Libsyn or Blubrry.
Libsyn specialize in this and put a lot of work into their templates, offering a range of options in creating a home for your podcast on their website. That means you'll be running a mydomain.libsyn.com website, which is a great option for some people.
You can also whitelabel it, using your own domain, but running on Libsyn. This takes a lot of the technical stress out of podcasting. You don't have to run a website, keep it updated or worry about glitches. Libsyn will take care of the tech while you can stick to presenting!
Blubrry have always had a mydomain.blubrry.com option too, though they don’t promote it as a service. It’s Blubrry’s belief that shows should have their own website, though some of their customers still choose this option.
Blubrry are on the catchup here too, having already announced their own ‘Podcast Websites' package which is due out as of the time of writing. The early specs look great, rivaling Libsyn's already great offering.
But, right now, if you want to host with the media host, rather than keep it on your own site, Libsyn is the best option.
Both platforms offer exceptional stats. If I want to find out how many people listened to my show on Stitcher on an iPhone in Detroit last month, I can do that.
A big difference here is that Libsyn's stats are staggered based on your pricing platform. You get no stats for $5 a month, but you can add $2 to bring it up to $7 per month for basic stats. You're still on the basic stats package at $15 per month, and move up to advanced stats by paying $20 per month or more.
Blubrry on the other hand offer their Professional stats on all packages, from their lowest monthly rate of $12 per month and up.
In terms of Blubrry's Professional stats v Libsyn's Advanced stats, I've not found any way to split them and say that one is better than the other. There are a few little differences but, for your average podcaster, there's very little in it.
On this front, it really depends how important stats are to your show. Measuring basic download numbers is important in the long run, but is knowing exactly where these downloads are coming from, what they're coming through, etc?
Well, it can be, depending on your show. Especially if it's a location-specific show and you offer some sort of physical product or service that requires your customers to be on location.
If you're looking for comprehensive stats at a lower cost, then Blubrry is the best option here!
In December 2015 Libsyn launched a brand new player that embeds or publishes in your posts. The player is fully customisable and displays your cover art (either your series artwork, or an episode specific cover), along with share buttons, a full episode playlist, and a download button.
Podcast episodes hosted on Blubrry are commonly displayed with the Powerpress plugin player, which is free to install and use. Powerpress can also be used with other media hosts (such as Libsyn), so it isn't Blubrry exclusive.
Not to be left behind, though, Blubrry recently released a new player as well. This player is available to Blubrry hosting customers, working with Powerpress.
The new player has social and subscribe buttons and can be used on almost any website, so you don’t necessarily need to be using a WordPress site to host externally. The player is designed to work on all devices too, be it a phone, tablet, or otherwise.
Your show can have its own custom mobile app built by Libsyn if you are on their $20 a month plan, or higher. There's a one-off development fee of $50 to have this done. It's paid during sign-up, after you complete the forms which detail your requirements, and then there is a $10 a month additional fee for the apps.
Libsyn's smartphone apps aren't directly connected to your RSS feed, so you can publish app specific content such as PDFs, photos, videos, and extra audio. These can be used as an extra incentive for listeners to download your show's app, instead of subscribing in a podcatcher.
Blubrry don't have an in-house app option. Instead they direct you to an external app development partner, reasoning that they prefer to send you to someone who does that exclusively.
If an app is important to you, and you want to have it included in your hosting, Libsyn is the way to go.
You can offer your listeners premium content with both Blubrry and Libsyn. If you want to offer a paid subscription service to your listeners then premium content is a necessary incentive. So how do both platforms differ in the services they offer here?
With Libsyn, your premium content is set up and delivered through their MyLibsyn subscription management service. With this, the end user can consume your premium content on the webpage Libsyn has set up for you on your own website with their HTML5 player, and also via a free custom smartphone app for your show for iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 devices.
Libsyn's goal with their premium service is to “make it easy for your audience to consume your premium content – but also lock it down so people can’t share it out of your control.”
With Blubrry, you'd set up your premium content inside your website (on PowerPress, and not via the Blubrry interface). This means your paid subscribers would be given an I.D. and password to your site, where they could log in and consume your premium content.
Libsyn have a feature where you can drop your episode URL into Facebook and it creates a player in your timeline. This is a nice way to share your content on this social media platform.
On top of this, you can set up Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in as destinations and publish custom messages and links to each destination. Libsyn offers up what they call destination publishing which means you can control exactly where each new episode does or does not go.
Whether you choose to host your podcast on Blubrry or Libsyn, I know you'll be completely satisfied with the service you receive. It's really about weighing up these differences between the two and deciding which service best suits your podcast's needs.
I think it’s fair to say that they both have a slightly different ethos when it comes to media hosting.
For Blubrry, it’s very much about the simplicity and speed of “post – upload – publish” from the dashboard of your website. If I wanted to work within my own site as much as possible, then I’d host with them.
As for Libsyn, it’s about letting their site handle the distribution of your files, and their belief in having different feeds for different destinations. If I wanted to publish episodes exclusively to destinations like Google Play for example, I’d host with them.
I'd love to hear what you think of each provider.
Why did you choose Libsyn over Blubrry, or vice versa?
Let us know in the comments below.
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