Apple CEO Tim Cook has announced the biggest change to Apple Podcasts since it’s debut in 2012. Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, is a service that allows listeners to pay to have early access to content, receive exclusive bonus episodes and listen ad-free.
As well as the introduction of subscriptions, the Apple Podcasts app will have a new design and layout and there is a new version of Apple Podcast Connect for podcasters.
The new changes will come in with the IOS 14.5 update. But what do the Apple Podcast changes actually mean for listeners and podcasters? We’ve broken it down for you in an easy guide below.
What will the new Apple Podcasts app design look like?
The new Apple Podcasts app looks quite different.
‘Channels’ is designed to help listeners find new shows based on the content you already listen to (think about music apps, that offer ‘Radio stations’). There will also be channels of podcasts recommended or curated by the makers of popular shows.
‘Curation’ is broader and will help listeners find recommendations from Apple. It will show collections linked to trending news stories, culturally relevant topics, and outstanding new podcasts, curated by the Apple editors.
There will still be a ‘Top Shows’ section, which will showcase the charts of most-listened shows.
Apple have also said that shows and episodes will have “beautiful new pages”.
There will also be small changes to the way you listen to shows. A ‘smart play’ feature starts with the right episodes of shows – for example the most recent episode of a news show, or the first episode of a limited series.
And because of the paid-for subscriptions, the old ‘Subscribe’ button has changed to ‘Follow’.
What is Apple Podcasts Subscriptions?
The premium subscriptions will be in addition to the millions of free podcasts and will be available directly through the Apple Podcasts app. This means there will now be three different ways to keep up to date with your favourite shows.
The Free option or ‘Follow’ will still download all new, free episodes for you to listen to.
With the Freemium, you can pay for extra episodes, early access or ad-free episodes for some podcasts.
The Paid option will be for podcasts that are only available for paid subscribers.
What does Apple’s paid subscriptions mean for listeners?
For listeners who use Apple Podcasts, the new version should be still be simple to use and might make it easier to find new shows you enjoy. ‘Follow’ lets you listen to podcasts in the same way you are currently used to. The Freemium content might be a nice way to give some support to podcasts you love. When you pay to ‘Subscribe’, your feed will become a ‘Subscriber edition’ with extra features, and Apple will take the payment (in the same way they do with paid-for apps).
But not all podcasts will have a paid-for option, just the podcasts that opt-in, so there might not be much change for listeners initially.
What does Apple’s paid subscriptions mean for podcast creators?
As a podcaster, if you want to list Freemium or Paid podcasts, you will have to enrol in the new Apple Podcasters Program and there’s a US $19.99/year fee to do so. Apple Podcasts will also take a 30% commission of the subscription price for a subscriber’s first year (dropping to 15% in the second year).
Even if you don’t sign up, you might want to think about your call-to-action for listeners. “Rate, review and subscribe…” might not be suitable anymore.
The Subscription format may work well for bigger podcast companies. Luminary, which already offers exclusive content on their own app, will be making their content available on Apple Podcasts subscription. This should mean their content can reach a much wider audience.
It’s also worth noting that paid podcasts are hosted by Apple, not by your podcast host. If you want it available to listeners on other platforms, you’ll still have to upload it and have payment options elsewhere.
Do I need to do anything about the new Apple Podcast updates?
For the moment, listeners don’t need to do anything. When the updates come to the Apple Podcasts app, listeners will still be ‘following’ all their free podcast feeds.
For podcasters, to start charging for extra content you need to log into (the new) Apple Podcasts Connect.
But you might want to wait a bit – according to Pod News it appears there are a few bugs, including shows disappearing entirely from Apple Podcasts!