While looking for sermon hosting solutions, I came across three. Here are my initial thoughts.
- Easy to use: good back-end interface
- Easy to use: good front-end interface. That is, it has a clean layout — I particularly like the big play button.
- Free version is limited to 500MB; then oldest sermons are deleted as new ones are added.
- Can filter, but not easily search by speaker or series
- iTunes link does not denote that your podcast was actually submitted to the iTunes Store. It only means that iTunes is the application which opens the feed. In other words, I do not think Sermon Drop actually submits your feed to iTunes thereby making it findable to the rest of the world from within the iTunes Store.
- Unlimited storage
- Robust player including Bible, multiple sharing avenues (e.g. – Facebook, MySpace, WordPress, etc.), search and search/filter functionalities
- Extensive stats
- Ad-supported player in free version with non-intuitive play button. That is, I fumbled around trying to find the play button–I would like a bigger and clearer button that plays the most recent sermon. In addition, in the list of sermons, one must click the speaker icon to play the sermon–and not the play icon . This doesn’t seem to be consistent nor intuitive.
- Like Sermon Drop, iTunes link does not denote that your podcast was actually submitted to the iTunes Store.
- This is the first sermon hosting service that I remember.
- Seems very similar to how it was back in the day. (Supporting this is that their last blog post was over a year ago.)
- Free version stores sermons for 1 year before deleting. (I believe.)
- Pop-up player (as opposed to in-line)
- No direct iTunes link (but see comment below on the iTunes link in the other sites).
- Cannot easily search by speaker or series
One pro for all the sites is that all of these services get your sermon and church “out there”–perhaps more than if your sermons were hosted on your own site.
One con for all three is the lack of customization available. (This is to be expected from a hosted service, but still important to note.) For example, the RSS feed is static–which means that if you ever move from that site, your RSS feed address will change. Allowing a user to specify a Feedburner feed address would be excellent and would avoid this pitfall.
Sermon Player has a lot of great features, but I like the layout and presentation of Sermon Drop. At the end of the day, I think most users care more about presentation than features. (After all, if they can’t figure out how to play a sermon, they probably won’t care about much else.)
Any of these sites would be a boon to the majority of churches. Churches with the resources, however, may consider using a solution based on Drupal likk the Fieldfield + jQuery recipe. Hopefully this plus the View2 Enclosure (referenced here) will made a good solution for churches looking to go this route.