Apple May Announce Podcasts Subscription Service at 'Spring Loaded' Event [Updated]
Kafka remarked in a tweet, spotted by 9to5Mac, that he is "pretty sure Apple is prepping its own podcast plan - a paid subscription service - on Tuesday." MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has now said that Kafka's claim lines up with findings in the beta of iOS 14.5.
The Podcasts app in iOS 14.5 features a new account button on the "Listen Now" tab, just like in Apple Music. Notifications settings have been moved to this new area, which will presumably include other account and subscription information.
Apple has not yet announced a release date for iOS 14.5, but with eight betas having been released, iOS 14.5 is nearing the end of the testing process. It is likely that a release candidate of iOS 14.5 will follow the Apple event, along with an update on when iOS 14.5 will fully roll out.
Apple has been rumored to be planning to launch a podcasts subscription service for some time. A report by Loup Ventures analysts made the case for a new Apple service tentatively titled "Podcasts+." According to the report, Podcasts+ would form a tier in the existing Podcasts app, offering a selection of exclusive premium shows.
The service is speculated to be bundled as a part of Apple One as well as Apple Music, with no added charge for existing paid subscribers. Podcasts+ would help to "drive incremental interest" in Apple Music and Apple One as a result, "generating high-margin, recurring revenue."
The Information and Bloomberg have reinforced the rumor, explaining that talks between Apple and production companies for a new podcast service were ongoing.
Apple held talks to purchase podcast network Wondery before it was bought by Amazon, and completed the acquisition of podcasts app Scout FM in September 2020, indicating the company's movement in the podcasting space.
Apple has already begun launching a number of original podcasts such as "The Line," some of which focus on its Apple TV+ output, which may be similar to how the company began experimenting with original programming on Apple Music before announcing Apple TV+.
Spotify has moved aggressively into podcasts, acquiring the exclusive rights to popular shows and removing them from other services. A podcasts subscription service would enable Apple to claw back space within the field.
According to Kafka, the new service could be announced as soon as tomorrow, presumably to accompany iOS 14.5, at Apple's "Spring Loaded" event. The event is also expected to see the debut of new iPad models and potentially redesigned iMacs with Apple silicon chips.
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Update: AppleInsider reports that Apple is no longer accepting new podcast submissions on iTunes connect. Reports of Apple refusing to accept new podcast submissions for review began emerging yesterday, and may indicate that a major podcast-related change could be set to arrive imminently, which has fueled speculation around an Apple podcasts subscription service being announced tomorrow. It is also possible that the podcast submission block may simply be a consequence of scheduled maintenance.