Should You Stream Podcasts Online or Download?

Podcasts to Listen to

Stream Podcasts Online

Which would you prefer? To download a podcasts to listen to or stream podcasts online?  You’re probably thinking, ‘what’s the difference? And does it really whether I stream or download my podcasts?’

After reading this interesting piece, you will know whether to stream or download podcasts from your best podcast platform.

But first, the basics…

What is Podcast Streaming? 

When you watch a live or recorded TV show, movie, Music, news, etc., on streaming platforms like Youtube, Netflix, ESPN, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, etc., online on your phone or PC, you’re streaming from the internet. The media file is not saved locally on your phone or PC but resides on its servers situated nearby or thousands of miles away.

Streaming is like listening to a radio or watching a TV, but online using internet services., what’s more, you can now stream radio programs and TV shows. So, when you select a podcast to listen to from a podcast directory, and it automatically plays on your phone or PC, then you’re streaming.

What is Podcast Downloading? 

You’re downloading when you save a podcast episode to listen to at a convenient time. The podcast file is now stored locally on your device, and you can listen or watch it repeatedly without using up your data bandwidth.

Podcast downloading is like recording a song from your favorite radio station on a cassette (Gosh! Old audio and video cassettes still litter my store), but the process is much simpler and more convenient.

Stream Podcasts Online vs. Downloading: The Difference

1. Using Data Bandwidth

When you stream podcasts online,  you’re accessing a podcast file stored on a remote computer far from you, accessible via the internet only. So, when you’re done watching or listening to a podcast on your best podcast platform, you cannot replay the same podcast episode without connecting to the internet. i.e., you use up data bandwidth each time you replay the same podcast episode from the same podcast streaming platform.

When you download a podcast episode for the first time, you use your data bandwidth; however, you do not need data bandwidth to replay a downloaded podcast episode. This means that if you’re on a flight or in a place with an unstable internet connection, you can watch or listen to a downloaded podcast episode offline without an internet connection because the podcast file already resides in your device’s memory.

Bottomline: you use data bandwidth each time you replay a streamed podcast episode. If you’ve downloaded the podcast episode to your device, you can watch or listen to the podcast episode repeatedly without using data bandwidth or connecting to the internet.

2. Storage Space

When you stream a podcast episode, it is not stored on your device; it doesn’t use up your storage space. But a downloaded podcast episode takes up space permanently on your phone or PC; hence you may likely run short of memory space if you have to download every podcast episode you listen to.

It’s the best option if you intend to watch or listen to a podcast episode repeatedly (I delete old podcast episodes to free up memory space, you can do the same too).

3. Audio and Video Quality

Streamed files are transmitted in data packets; hence, most of the best podcast platforms compress podcast files to make them lighter to transmit and to make streaming podcasts from their platform a smooth experience for you, even when you’re in an area with a poor network connection (though the experience is not too good; so if you must stream, make sure you have a stable internet connection).

Most streaming services compress media files to give you an enjoyable moment of streaming but at the expense of quality. Therefore, if you’re streaming podcasts, you might have to make do with lower resolution and audio quality.

You will be amazed that podcasts downloaded from the same podcast streaming platforms have higher resolution, better audio quality, and are heavier because they do not need to be compressed. Hence, you end up using more data bandwidth to download podcasts, but it is worth it if you intend to watch or listen to the same podcast episode multiple times.

Bottomline: streamed podcasts may have lower resolution and audio quality because they have been compressed to make them lighter to transmit. Downloaded podcasts have higher resolution and audio quality because they do not need to be compressed. If you’re more concerned about data usage, or the podcast episode is less important, then you’re good with streaming. If you have unlimited bandwidth, you’re in an area with poor or unstable network connection, or you intend to watch or listen to a podcast episode multiple times, then you should download the podcast rather than stream podcasts online.

4. Convenience

If you don’t like the podcast episode you’re streaming after watching or listening to it for the first few minutes, you can stop the streaming and save yourself valuable bandwidth.

On the other hand, you would have used up your data downloading a podcast episode only to discover you don’t like the podcast episode; annoying, isn’t it?

5. Safety

If you stream podcasts online from some of the best podcast platforms, you do not need to fear malware infection because, technically, the streamed podcast file does not reside locally on your device; hence there’s no way your device can be infected. Also, podcast streaming platforms have powerful firewalls and antimalware that ensure the safety of streamed podcast files.

Suppose you’re downloading a podcasts to listen to or watch later, especially from untrusted platforms. In that case, you could be downloading podcast files infected with malware such as viruses, ransomware, spyware, Trojans, worms, etc., therefore, compromising your device and data safety; you sure do know what that means, you could lose important personal and financial data to hackers. If you must download podcasts, download only from trusted podcast platforms or directories.

Stream Podcasts Online Or Downloading Podcasts: Which Is Better?

Your choice of streaming or downloading will depend on factors like data, memory, convenience, network stability, etc., which is have outlined above. However, most podcast streaming services set their content to ‘auto-play’ by default, which is a preferable option for most podcast audiences.

Most of the best podcast platforms allow you to download a podcast episode or the whole series of podcasts to listen to or watch at your convenience by navigating to the ‘Setting’s menu of the podcast episode you wish to download and selecting the ‘Download’ option to download the podcast episode to your audio library where you can listen to or watch offline at your convenience.

Should You Enable Automatic Download For Your Favorite Podcasts?

The auto-download function allows your device to download podcast episodes from your favorite podcast channel automatically without the stress of manually downloading every new podcast episode.

Note: You should enable the auto-download functionality for your favorite podcast channel only to prevent other podcasts from downloading automatically to your device.

Most podcast directories allow you to enable the auto-download option for your favorite podcast channel by navigating to the Podcast channel’s settings.

As A Podcaster, Which Would You Prefer Your Listeners To Do?

If you’re monetizing your podcast channel, you would want to keep track of your listeners behavior and interaction with your podcast channel for accurate data analysis. However, this is only possible when listeners stream podcasts from your podcast channel.

Streaming can help you gather important data like the number of listeners listening to or watching a particular podcast episode, the average minute spent listening to or watching the podcast episode, the number of listeners who listen to the same episode more than once, etc.

Therefore, you benefit more when your listeners stream podcast online from your podcast channel rather than downloading podcasts to listen to at a later time.

The number of podcast downloads also matters in terms of monetizing your podcast channel; also, your audience may prefer to download podcasts to listen to or watch at their convenience. So, it all boils down to your listeners’ preferences.

Therefore, you should set your embedded player to auto-play and also make it easy for your audience to download your podcasts.

Summing up

To stream podcasts online or download podcasts to listen to or watch? The answer does not depend on you as a podcaster; it all boils down to your listeners choosing the best option that fits their needs.