What Type of Podcast Player Should You Use on Your Site?
should you use a podcast app player, a podcast host player, or something else?
If you have a website for your podcast, you might be wondering what type of podcast player should you use.
While the majority of podcast listeners might prefer listening on their preferred podcast app (at least according to this non-scientific “study”), having your own website offers a host of advantages for your podcast and listeners.
other options (blog, shop, community, etc)
additional analytics (web behaviour on top of listener behaviour)
easy buy-in (no additional apps to install)
It’s this last option that can help attract more listeners to your podcast. Whether it’s because some listeners don’t understand apps, or the operating system negates certain apps, having an easy-to-listen method for each episode can pay dividends.
For my Podcaster Stories podcast, for example, my website is the number one driver of listens, way higher than the next two (Apple and Pocket Casts).
So, for that show, if I didn’t have a website with an embedded podcast player I could be leaving a lot of potential listeners on the table.
However, that does open up another question - what type of podcast player should you use on your site? With so many options, does it even matter which one you choose? Well, actually, yes it can.
Let’s dig into some of the options out there, as well as the pros and cons of each.
Your Podcast Host’s Player
If, like me, you use a podcast host to publish and distribute your podcasts, there’s a good chance they also offer a podcast player that you can use.
Since I'm part of the Captivate team, I use our player, which has several options:
The last one is pretty cool for creating a curated collection (say, best of’s, for example, or episodes that focused on a single topic).
Every Captivate player is fully responsive and accessibility-friendly, and offers a slew of features you can include on the player:
sharing (including embed code)
calls to action
skip and volume controls
It’s these features that make the player such a flexible one, where the podcaster decides how much should be shown to the listener.
If you have a self-hosted WordPress site, Captivate makes it even easier to use their player, with the Sync plugin that lets you manage, publish, and edit your episodes, directly from your WordPress dashboard.
Additionally, since I use the Captivate player, I get additional analytics around my audience for each episode, like listener drop off and consumption percentage.
So should you use your podcast host’s player?
multiple display options
embeddable on most sites/CMS platforms (*cough* Substack *cough*)
additional audience data
anyone can listen to it
fully customizable for branding
no additional load on your website, since the podcast host still serves the audio file
some CMS systems may not support iFrame/oEmbed fully
if the host has server issues, it can affect the player display
if the host closes, you could have lots of episode players to replace
A Podcast App/Platform’s Player
Another popular option that I’ve seen a few podcasters use is to embed the player for a specific podcast app or platform, like Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
Whereas it used to be a pain to try and embed players from these platforms, recent updates have made it a bit easier.
If you do embed an episode (or full show), and you use a player from one of these apps, it will look something like this.
As you can see, they’re very different from the Captivate example, as well as each other.
They’re much more compact (especially Spotify), and this can lead to losing some of the episode title/details. That being said, you can resize before embedding. They also have less features (transcripts, for example).
However, for these podcast players, that’s not the main point for using them - instead, it’s to encourage plays on either Apple Podcasts or Spotify (or whichever app you embed the player from).
This, by association, should encourage more growth on these apps, which can help with the findability of your podcast on each platform.
So, should you use podcast app players?
increases listenership on these platforms
easy follow option (on most)
additional audience data on Podcasts Connect and Spotify for Podcasters
additional marketing assets (with Podcasts Connect)
limits listens to a specific app/platform
less customization options
some analytics may not be counted (if a listener isn’t logged in to Spotify, for example)
if Spotify or Apple are having issues, your player could stop displaying
Third-Party Podcast Players
For any podcaster whose host doesn’t provide a podcast player, and they don’t want to limit listeners to a specific podcast app’s player, then there are some other options too.
These usually come in the shape of third-party players, like WordPress plugins or code that you can embed directly on your page or post. They usually pull from your podcast’s RSS feed, making it easy to display your episode(s).
Some have less customization options than others, and might be a bit heavy on the branding side of the developer, while others can be fully customizable to suit your site. These include:
Podcast Player - super customizable, with app badges, search, live search, and more
Fusebox - from Pat Flynn, this plugin supports HTML5, a mega player display, social sharing and downloads, and partners with the Fusebox transcript plugin
Simple Podcast Press: creates a page for each episode, and includes all the metadata for the show/episode. Lots of features with this one (though that does mean it can be a bit overwhelming for some)
Podcast Importer - this is a nifty plugin from SecondLine, and uses your RSS feed to create episode posts. It even replicates your podcast host’s player design, if they offer that option
Podcast player via HTML embed/code snippet
Podfriend - a very simple player that you add to your site via a widget
Podkite - this is for episodes only (no playlist player), but has a neat feature that lets you link directly to these episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc
There are other options, both from a plugin perspective and an embed one, but the ones highlighted above are some of the more popular options when asking other podcasters. So should you use third-party options?
not limited to any host or app
you can choose the one that best suits your needs
the features can be as limited or as expansive as you want
can be fiddly to implement (on some coded options)
additional features may be behind a premium upgrade
some sites/CMS platforms may not support the embed
if the plugin is discontinued, it could break the player on your site
Then, of course, there’s the option to simply add your audio files directly to your own site and publish/display from there, but that’s a completely different topic for another time.
How about you? What’s your preferred option for using a podcast player on your site, and why do you choose that? I’d love to hear from you!
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