Podcast Networks: The Complete Guide

If your podcast is up and running and gaining momentum, you might consider joining a podcast network. After all, you've heard they can be excellent options for discoverability, networking, and monetization opportunities.

But what are podcast networks? What qualifications do they require? Would your podcast fit right in, or is it better to remain independent and follow your own beat?

Let's find out.

What is a podcast network?

Podcast networks are a collection of podcasts gathered under the same roof.

Some networks produce all their podcasts, while others are more of a space for individual podcasters to join. Many podcast networks are open to shows in any genre, while others gather podcasts around a theme.

Some examples include:

  • Comedy podcast network (e.g., All Things Comedy)
  • News and journalism podcast networks (e.g., Newscast)
  • Business-focused networks (e.g., HubSpot)
  • Sports networks (e.g., Sport Social)
  • Pop culture networks (e.g., The Pop Culture Pub Podcast Network)

Podcast networks work under the belief that people can achieve more when they band together than they can on their own. They offer podcasters more discoverability, collaboration, networking possibilities and potential monetization opportunities.

Most podcast networks are also business operations. They want to make a profit while (and because of) helping you to grow your audience and brand.

Who can join a podcast network?

Most networks want successful podcasters who already have at least one show up and running.

Many podcast networks require minimum download numbers (which could be anything from 1000 to 50,000 downloads per episode). They also look for consistent podcast production (releasing at least weekly) and ask that you cross-promote other podcasts within the network.

A few podcast networks will accept pitches for new podcasts. The BBC is one, and HubSpot has invested in new ideas through HubSpot Creators in the past.

How do podcast networks work?

Podcast networks provide a centralized platform for hosting, distributing, and managing member podcasts. Usually, each podcast within the network retains its own brand and identity, although if you join, you'll have to agree to some Ts&Cs and possibly content reviews.

Podcast networks are businesses in their own right. In other words, they offer a service and expect to make a profit. Some of their revenue comes from the advertisements run throughout the network's podcasts, but you'll probably pay ongoing network fees as well. The fee size varies depending on the network's size and the services it offers.

Not all groups exist for advertising and marketing purposes. Ad-free podcast networks target those listeners who'd rather pay upfront with a subscription than listen to a single ad. In those networks, listeners pay monthly or yearly subscriptions for ad-free experiences.

Some podcast networks use both models, with a premium version for listeners who don't want ads and a free version for those who don't want to pay a subscription fee.

Benefits of joining a podcast network

Increased listenership and exposure to new audiences

Podcasters form podcast networks because their collective power helps with discoverability.

Cross-promotion is a significant benefit of networks because listeners often listen to similar podcasts in their niche, especially if they're looking for educational content. Hearing a podcaster recommending other shows is a popular way for new listeners to discover new content.

Production assistance

Depending on the network, you may get production and marketing support, too, because in a network, what benefits one podcast generally reflects back to all.

More (and higher value) sponsorship opportunities

Podcasters often join a podcast network to earn ad revenue or gain high-value sponsorships. Advertisers look for high-quality podcasts with excellent audience engagement to maximize the number of people hearing their ads.

Podcast networks attract sponsorships and advertisers because they can offer so many successful podcasts with high download numbers.

Collaboration and networking opportunities

When you join a podcast network, getting to know other podcasters can be a big bonus. Suddenly, you're in the same stable as award-winning podcasts and may find opportunities to reach out to other creators for advice or collaborations


It's likely that your network's requirements include minimum monthly download numbers, a regular publishing schedule, and a minimum number of episodes already published. If you're included in a network, listeners and advertisers will know that you run a successful podcast.

That lends credibility to this podcast, and having that reputation might help you with other shows you plan to start in the future.

VC Funding

Venture capitalists have become more interested in podcasting since 2019, particularly in podcast networks. But they're unlikely to invest in individual shows, most of which are too small for VC appetites.

Such funding lets the network offer more services to podcasts within their stable. So, you may get access to a producer, editing services or help with social media and promotion.

Downsides to joining a podcast network

Less creative control

You may find that the podcast network wants some control over your content. For example, there may be topics you can't discuss, and they may ask you not to comment about other shows in the network other than cross-promoting them.

Because the network organizes the ads, you might find yourself with ads and sponsors whose products don't fall in your niche. You may even find sponsors you actively disagree with. Some networks allow you to have some say about advertisers, while others don't.

Contractual obligations

All podcast networks have contracts, and you'll need to sign one when you join. Make sure you read it carefully before signing.

Check the advertising clauses. It also pays to double-check who is responsible for bringing in the advertisers (you or the network) and how many ad breaks you're expected to include in each episode.

Note whether the contract includes scheduling obligations and what control the network takes over your work.

Exclusivity clauses

Check the contract to see if the network expects exclusivity—i.e., that your podcast can only be in their stable and nowhere else.

The network takes a cut

Network advertisers usually work on the CPM (cost per mille) model. This offers three ad placements:

  • Mid-roll ads
  • Pre-roll ads
  • Post-roll ads

Advertisers pay $X per every thousand episode downloads, depending on the placement they want. Mid-roll ads are usually the most expensive, as listeners are more likely to notice them but may scroll past a pre-roll ad or stop the episode before the post-roll ad is played.

Independent podcasters can take 100% of their advertising revenue—but they've also done 100% of the work. However, the network may take up to 30% of your payments to reflect the work they've put into attracting advertisers for you.

Dependency on network's reputation

Once you become known for being in a particular podcast network, your reputation may be tied to that brand. So, it's essential to choose a network with a good reputation in your podcast's niche. You don't want listeners to turn away from your podcast simply because of the network you're associated with.

Top podcast networks

There are podcast networks of all sizes out there, from gigantic iHeart (250,000+) to the brand new Office Ladies Network (two at the time of writing). So, if you want to join a podcast network, there could well be one where your show would fit in. Or you could even decide to start a network yourself. Many of today's successful networks were started by independent podcasters.

Most podcast networks don't advertise their conditions upfront on their websites. You'll probably have to contact them directly to learn whether your podcast qualifies to join.

The best podcast networks include:


Wondery podcast network

Wondery is one of the USA's largest podcast publishers and has podcasts in many categories, including Sports, True Crime, Comedy, Personal Growth, Business and Family. Audiences can listen free on any platform or subscribe to Wondery+ to get ad-free content.

The network offers podcasters specialized marketing, audience development, monetization and merchandise possibilities, live events and more.


PodcastOne podcast network

PodcastOne has over 200 shows in its wide-ranging network. Its website says: PodcastOne describes itself as "the leading advertiser-supported, on-demand digital audio network...with more than 600M downloads annually across our community of podcasts."

They provide opportunities for podcasts to monetize through advertising and sponsorship.


Audioboom podcast network

This podcast network has two arms —Audioboom Studios, which produces original content for the Audioboom network, and Creator Network, which gathers top podcasts and personalities under the Audioboom umbrella. They offer help with advertising, distribution, increased exposure and production for the podcasts that fit their criteria.

The network says: "We make podcasts accessible and profitable for podcasters, advertisers and brands by combining technical support, production savvy and ad sales know-how into one user-friendly, economical experience."


Earwolf podcast network

Earwolf is known as a network dedicated to all things comedy. The company was founded in 2010 by comedy podcasters Scott Aukerman and Jeff Ullrich. Four years later, it became Midroll Media (including Stitcher and Earwolf) and was acquired in 2020 by SiriusXM.

The network includes well-known podcasts like Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend, How Did This Get Made? and Office Ladies.


Radiotopia podcast network

Radiotopia was created by producer Roman Mars, host of 99% Invisible and PRX (Public Radio Exchange) specifically for independent podcasters.

It currently boasts 30+ podcasts and says: "We empower creators with the support to deliver well-crafted, innovative audio, and the freedom to thrive on their own terms."

Radiotopia is one network that says upfront what it's looking for in new podcasts, although as a small network, it's limited in the number of new shows it takes on.


Cumulus podcast network

The Cumulus Podcast Network is part of the larger company Cumulus Media, which includes 400+ radio networks across the USA.

Its mission is "to be the leading podcast network in the US offering podcasters and content creators promotional support, production services, marketing, sales representation, research, creative services, and access to America’s largest audio network reaching a quarter of a billion people each month."

Cumulus is an inclusive network that focuses on producing innovative, entertaining and thought-provoking podcasts.


HubSpot podcast network

HubSpot is primarily a business platform, so it isn't surprising that its podcast network focuses on business podcasts like Online Marketing Made Easy, Creator Science and My First Million.

HubSpot Creators is the network's feeder program, which includes HubSpot Originals and established shows by other podcasters and YouTubers who have joined the network.

Their FAQs say they judge which podcasts can join the network using "a standardized scoring rubric... to evaluate each show equitably (on) a combination of alignment to HubSpot audiences, production quality, host talent, social audience, and our DI&B goals."

Final thoughts

If you already run a successful podcast there are many reasons why you might seek to join a podcast network - and why they might accept you into the fold.

However, podcast networks don't suit every podcast or every creator. Many aren't big enough to attract a deal, and other shows don't want to lose their individuality or creative control. In that case, you can remain independent and rely on your own marketing and collaboration with other podcasters to grow your audience.

Rephonic isn't a podcast network. It's a podcast database, chock full of listener data and podcast information on more than 3 million shows.

Use Rephonic to find guesting and collab opportunities to grow your show.

Lyn McNamee

Lyn McNamee

Writer at Rephonic

Find, pitch and get featured on podcasts

Rephonic gives you listener numbers, contacts, demographics and more across 2.5m+ podcasts.

Lyn McNamee

Lyn McNamee

Writer at Rephonic

Find, pitch and get
featured on podcasts

Rephonic gives you listener numbers, contacts, demographics and more across 2.5m+ podcasts.