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Anchor – the easiest way to make a podcast (that some people apparently can’t actually listen to, according to Overcast!)

Overcast app developer calls out Anchor's interaction with his client app

If you're using Anchor for hosting your branded podcast, you need to read this...

Are you using Anchor for your podcast’s hosting? 

Well, you’ll probably be unsurprised to know it has a lot of critics. 

Mostly because it’s free, and anything free always carries quality issues.

And boy did it have a lot of issues when it first launched, such as opaque terms and conditions, and accusations over ownership of content.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the entire business model, but it does still have a legion of loyal fans, not only in the hobby end of the space.

Some even use it to host their branded podcast.

A picture of someone listening to an Anchor podcast

So what's the problem?

Marco Arment, the brains behind podcast app Overcast – a client app that uses RSS feeds provided by hosting companies like Anchor to display content – recently wrote: 

“And Anchor fix your damn M4A generation. (Presumably, your ad-insertion “tech” broke it. What a surprise.) It’s been two weeks that you’re serving malformed files, breaking media players, and losing the audiences of your customers. Do you care about this medium at all?”

Ouch. That’s pretty scathing criticism.

But is it really warranted?

A brief history of Anchor

Anchor has been around for a few years now, and it’s always been a bit of a controversial platform.

Critics say that its ad-insertion technology is clunky and that it often breaks media players. This is just the latest of a long line of claims to that effect.

They also argue that Anchor’s hosting service is not as reliable as it should be – citing the fact that episodes sometimes fail to upload correctly or are unavailable for streaming.

All of this combined means that many podcasters are choosing to move away from Anchor and host their shows elsewhere.

So who should I host my podcast with?

Although every podcaster has their own favourite podcast hosting company (Podknows Podcasting is a huge fan of Libsyn <use promo code “Podknows” for your first month free> and Captivate) Anchor has a legion of loyal fans on many of Facebook’s podcasting themed groups.

This is possibly because they’re largely made up of what I would call ‘hobby’ podcasters.

These people don’t share the same concerns as professional or branded podcasters, since their livelihoods and revenue don’t depend on their podcast.

Either way, I’m quite sure that if you’re producing content, you’ll be wanting to know that it’s reaching your intended audience.

So this claim from Marco Arment that’s suggesting episodes may not be reaching all apps is concerning.

What's Anchor's response to all this?

So far, the company hasn’t said a word, and I’m personally not expecting them to.

They’re not exactly known for their transparency.

The only reason they made any changes to their previously shady terms and conditions was because they were the worst kept secret in the podcasting space.

If their usual form is anything to go by, they’ll probably just quietly make an update to appease Marco and the other app developers,.

As I’m not a journalist as such, I feel I can proffer this pondering….

If you were Spotify, and you owned a very popular podcast app that sends RSS feeds to other apps, wouldn’t it be tempting to ‘experiement’ with the coding that lets those other apps share your feeds?

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